When Old Man Winter Comes Howling: Will Your Roof Be Ready?
Winter weather is brutal on roofs, especially ones that are older, with missing tiles and worn flashing. If you barely escaped last year without some type of roof catastrophe, is this upcoming season going to do the roof in? Are you imagining your buckets scattered around your floors, catching the drips and drops from the old roof? Don't delay any longer, because you don't want a final collapse or a constant flood of melting snow coming into your home. Get ready now, before the first howl of what's predicted to be a mighty winter.
Signs Your Roof May Not Withstand Winter's Wrath
Just because a roof is old or you live in an area typically brutalized by winter doesn't automatically mean it needs work; however, there are telltale signs you need to be aware of that do normally mean repairs are in order:
- Patches of discolored shingles.
- Eroded flashing.
- Warping of the roof.
- Damaged shingles.
- Too much water burdening the gutters, especially if it accumulates around your foundation.
- Roof granules appearing in your gutters.
- Indications of moisture in the attic, such as water stains or black insulation.
- Any indoor (ceiling) water spots or sagging.
With winter comes snow, and while you might think accumulation is the primary factor for roof damage, it's more likely to be the weight. Wet snow is many times heavier than the fluffy stuff, bearing down on the deck, underlayment, and other roof layers, which may eventually buckle or otherwise break under the pressure. In anticipation of what winter may bring this year, your roof should be inspected to ensure it can bear the brunt of the worst storms, without compromise or catastrophe.
Prioritizing Your Options For Roof Winterization
While your budget may be a primary concern, if the roof doesn't hold out for another year, the expense will be far greater than any preemptive actions you take. Prioritize repairs so you can prevent a worst-case scenario from happening, and consider all the ways in which you can take care of the inevitable snow that's going to pile up on your rooftop.
A Total Roof Replacement: Were your interior doors difficult to open and close last winter? That may be a warning sign that the weight of the snow was actually bearing down on the ceilings and supportive walls, putting the whole house under pressure. If you're also seeing interior stains and exterior damage, you may need to have the entire roof completely replaced.
Partial Replacement Or Spot Repairs: Patching your roof in severely damaged areas may suffice, but be warned that your insurance company may take exception to this if you file a claim later on. Although spot-repairing may be cheaper than total replacement, the repaired areas may be quite obvious, due to discoloration (of the old shingles).
The Addition Of Snow Guards: Snow guards or brackets can be added to your roof as a means of preventing ice dams from forming, thereby lightening the load overhead. You shouldn't need to modify your existing shingles for snow guard installation, and this option may lower your insurance costs. Snow guards come in various colors and styles, leaving you a few choices in terms of how your home will look with them.
Professional Snow Removal As Needed: If your roof isn't in need or immediate repairs, or for some reason, you put those repairs off this year, definitely investigate the possibility of having the snow on your roof professionally removed to keep you out of the danger zone.
A Roof Rake: If your home is a single-story structure, a roof rake, with an extended handle for reaching a greater distance, may be useful in removing the snow yourself. Just be careful to angle the down-coming snow away from yourself and important elements of your property, along with any children or pets that might be in the area.
No matter how tightly you cross your fingers or how passionately you wish for a mild winter, that snow is coming. Particularly if your roof is old and you've already observed instances of failure, such as drips, stains, and sags, one severe storm could be all that's needed to confirm your worst fears and leave you in very dire straits, right in the midst of winter.
If there's any doubt in your mind about your roof being able to survive winter, contact a general roofing contractor for professional advice. Even if you don't need your entire roof replaced, you probably need some level of work to prepare for the impending snow, sleet, wind, and all that pressure hanging over your head. Leaving the repairs for next year is probably a gamble that won't have a very good pay off for you.