Preparing Your Roof for Winter

As the winter season begins to enter full stride, our roofs prepare to do battle with the elements. While you can always count on a roof from Performance Roofing to function at its best, there are still some maintenance chores necessary to keep your roof looking and performing as it should. This entry gathers the best tips and tricks from around the web and combines them with Performance Roofing’s expertise for your convenience.


Remove all loose debris from the roof surface and all unattached materials so that they will not become icy slip hazards or otherwise dangerous.


Check your shingles and tiles. Make sure that they are nailed down properly and replace any that are missing or damaged. Spray your roof down with a hose on a clear, warm day and check inside to see if there are any leaks. Also, examine areas where chimneys or exhaust stacks are present and check their bases to make sure that they are sealed properly.


Check ceilings and interior walls for any stains that may indicate leakage. If the stains are in fact caused by a current leak in the roof, take the time to seal all faults in the roof before rain and snow make doing so impossible.


Flashing problems are one of the most common roof issues. Flashing is the aluminum piece used around roof edges, roof piping, roof vents, and chimneys. It is applied to the roof-to-wall transition to prevent the water from soaking into the interior of the building. Heavy wind and rain may cause damage to flashings. Hence, before the onset of the winter months, damaged flashings should be repaired or replaced.


Adjacent trees extending their twigs over the roof pose a serious threat. During heavy snow fall and strong storm winds the branches become heavy and have a possibility of being broken. This may cause a great deal of damage to the roof. Also, animals like raccoons can easily come on the roof, improving the chance of damage.


After the roof collects all the hard hitting rain, ice, snow, hail, and whatever else may come its way, all that material will likely slide off into the gutters. Consequently, it is important to clear all gutters, downspouts, and scuppers. Also, check the strainers and clamping rings that help support the drains to avoid their collapse under the weight of the elements. Consider installing leaf guards on the gutters or extensions on the downspouts to clear away debris.


If you have a flat roof, water can sometimes freeze, creating ‘ice dams’ that increase in weight, thereby potentially flattening roof gradients or causing localized damage. Sheet metal roofing protects against this by offering a layer of waterproof metal to prevent the water from weighing directly on the roof where it could be absorbed or cause leaks and cracks.


If you live in an area accustomed to snow, adding extra insulation to the attic will prevent warm air from creeping to your roof and causing ice dams. Also, make sure that all roofing ventilation systems are cleared and functioning as they should. Any rooftop components such as HVAC units that are performing less than ideally should be immediately tended to, as their access will likely be limited in the months ahead.


Check your roof deck and fascia/coping for any signs of deterioration. Examine expansion joints for signs of excessive movement and spills, thin sections of membrane, and deteriorated caulking of loose metal work. The shift from warm whether to cold can put undue stress on various points all over your home or building.


Continue to monitor your ceilings and roof over the course of the season. Even with proper maintenance prior to peak season, the colder temperatures can make the membrane roof system and other components harder and less flexible and therefore more susceptible to damage by puncture or sharp objects. If you’re in the middle of getting a new roof during a storm, make sure that your roofing company has taken the steps necessary to cover and protect any open access to your structure’s interior.

Remember, only trained roof technicians should maintain a roof. Walking on the roof is not only dangerous, but can also damage the roof and thus cause the very problems you’re trying to avoid. The above tips should be offered to any professional you hire and used as a checklist to make sure they’re keeping you safe and dry this winter.