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How To Get Your Asphalt-Shingled Roof Ready For Winter's Harsh Weather

by Wade Black

To continue protecting your home's interior and you and your family through winter, your roof should be inspected and maintained before winter arrives. Winter can bring with it freezing rain, ice buildup, and snow upon your rooftop. Here are some tips to help you ready your roof and its drainage system to ensure it remains a protective barrier to your home's interior.

Repair Shingle Damage

One of the first things you should inspect on your roof is the condition of its asphalt shingles. If any of your shingles are cracked, broken, or missing, your roof will be at risk of water seeping down through its layers and into your attic and home. Safely get upon your rooftop while it is dry and the weather is sunny to inspect for any damage. Completing this while the sun is out helps the shingles remain flexible, not brittle, and helps prevent your causing additional damage to your shingles while you replace and repair them.

Any shingles that are damaged or missing should be replaced with a new shingle. If you don't have a set of extra shingles, you can buy a box at a local roofing or home improvement store. Use a pry bar to lift up the shingle directly above the damaged one and remove the nails securing the damaged shingle. Slip a new shingle into the empty slot, and replace the removed nails with new ones.

Clean and Repair Gutters and Downspouts

While you are up on your roof, check your gutters for debris and remove it with a garden trowel or a pressure washer. This frees up the gutters to allow for proper roof runoff during winter, which helps prevent ice dam formation at the roof's edges.

Also check your gutters for any cracks, holes, and sagging that can allow water leakage. The best way to look for these problems is turning your garden hose onto your roof and watching for any leaks in your gutter system. If you do encounter any leaks, you can repair them yourself with a gutter patch kit that can be found at most home improvement stores. You can also hire a gutter installation company to repair and replace any damaged sections.

Inspect your gutter downspouts for proper drainage and remove any blockages with your garden hose or pressure washer. Make sure the connections from the gutters to the downspouts are not cracked or leaking. Install a downspout extender to deliver water well away from your home's foundation to prevent basement moisture problems. Your downspout extender should have a splash block or deliver the water onto a paved area to prevent soil erosion.

Prevent Ice Dams

Ice dams on your rooftop can be a problem when you live in a northern climate that experiences winter snowfall. If your roof and attic do not have proper ventilation, the rooftop can become warmed from the interior and cause snow to melt upon your roof. The melted snow will run to the cold edges of your roof and refreeze into a layer of ice. A repeated occurrence of this each day leads to a buildup of a thick layer of ice that then grows between your shingles and into the underlayers of your roof.

One of the best ways to prevent this is to make sure your attic space is well ventilated to allow outside air to keep the interior space cool. It is recommended to have at least one square foot of vent space for every 150 square feet of attic floor space. Experts recommend half the vents should be placed in the soffits at the bottom of your roof and the other half in ridge vents or in the gable. This allows air to circulate through the roof from the bottom to the top of your roof.

For additional advice, contact a roofing contractor in your area.

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