Preparing Your Roof for Winter
The weather is starting to change, and so are the colors of the leaves. Here in Georgia, it seems like October is the time when the weather quickly switches from the heat of summer to the crisp chill of winter. It’s a great time to pull out your sweaters and turn on the heat. But did you know that it’s also part of the busy season for Atlanta roofers? That’s because autumn time is the time to be preparing your roof for winter. If you haven’t already, you want to make sure that your roof is cleaned, repaired, and ready to withstand whatever nature throws at it this winter.
The first step to preparing your roof for winter is clearing off any debris that may be on your roof. All summer long, torrential downpours and sudden cloudbursts have been whipping around the trees around your home. This leads to a lot of fallen debris. Leaves, twigs, and even chunks of branches may have accumulated on your roof. Before winter rolls in, it’s essential that you get all of that debris of your roof.
Roof debris, such as leaves, twigs, and branches can trap water and moisture on the surface of your roof. And just like moisture in your basement or attic, moisture on your roof provides a perfect environment for algae, moss, and mold. If you neglect the critical step of clearing off your roof, you’re practically inviting mold onto your roof. While a little mold or moss on a roof is usually not harmful, a buildup of moss or mold can lead to problems. Moss and mold will eventually eat away at the material of your roof, causing weak spots that can quickly turn into leaks during heavy rain.
Of course, as summer turns to fall, there is an added source of debris. Falling leaves can nearly coat your roof. Unlike twigs and branches, which leave some airspace that allows the roof to dry, leaves lay flat on your roof. They quickly trap moisture beneath them that is very slow to dry, especially in cooler weather. So if you have leafy trees anywhere near your roof, it is imperative that you make sure no leaves are sticking to the surface of your roof.
Clean the Gutters
Functioning gutters are essential to a healthy roof. Your roof has a lot of surface area, and in a heavy downpour, it can receive a lot of water. You can calculate the exact amount of runoff from your roof with a little easy math. First, calculate the are of your roof in square inches. For example, a 1,000 square foot roof is 144,000 square inches. Next, multiply by the number of inches of rainfall. In a 1-inch downpour, your roof receives 144,000 cubic inches of water. To convert that to gallons, divide the cubic inches by 231 (because there are 231 cubic inches in a gallon). A 50 foot by 20 foot roof receives about 623 gallons of water in a 1-inch downpour. That’s a lot for your gutters to handle.
If your gutters are clogged, even a little, they can’t drain your roof properly. Gutters are calculated to handle an amount of water based on the size and pitch of your roof. But if they are only handling a part of their potential, water will overflow the gutters and cause damage to your roof, trim, and siding.
If you are comfortable climbing onto your roof, you can get up there to clear debris and clean the gutters yourself. Make sure to wear appropriate footwear, such as work boots with a strong grip. Ideally, see if you can rent a harness system from a local home improvement store. If your home is more than a single story, your roof has a steep slope, or you just don’t feel comfortable on your roof, stay off of it. Instead, contact Eagle Watch Roofing to schedule a cleaning and inspection. If your gutters need extra cleaning, we can refer you to a great gutter cleaning company.
Check the Flashing
Flashing is the (usually) sheet metal that is installed along the valleys of your roof and around any roof penetrations. Its job is to direct water away and down your roof into the gutters. Flashing is often in a location that receives a lot of water. For instance, the flashing in the valleys of your roof collects much of the water that falls on your roof. Remember that calculation of rainfall on your roof? It’s not just your gutters that need to handle all that water. Before the water gets to your gutters, much of it will run down the flashing in the spots where roof slopes meet.
Typical damage to flashing includes corrosion along the surface and curling or loose seams around the edges. If you have corrosion on any part of your flashing, you could run the risk of holes and leaks if it’s not repaired quickly. Flashing repair is a job best left to a professional roofer, since it may require removing and replacing shingles.
Flashing around roof penetrations keeps water from seeping through your roof at vulnerable spots. For example, flashing around your chimney keeps water from finding its way through the seam between the bricks and your roof decking. This kind of flashing is typically sealed to your chimney or other roof penetration. If the sealant is drying, cracking, or otherwise coming loose, you’d do well to repair it before winter.
Eagle watch includes a full inspection of your flashing with every roof inspection. Too often, cut-rate roofers just slap on a little more sealant or take other shortcuts to repair flashing. At Eagle Watch Roofing, we will assess the damage and take the necessary steps to repair it, even if that means removing some shingles and replacing parts of the flashing.
Look for Shingle Damage
Over the summer, your roof has taken a beating. Summer storms bring driving rain and high winds. In between storms, the summer sun bakes your roof, potentially drying out shingles. Asphalt shingles are covered in small granules that protect the asphalt from UV rays from the sun. If the granules start to come off, the UV rays will damage the asphalt, causing it to quickly deteriorate. So when you inspect your roof in the fall, it’s important to look for any signs of granules shedding off of your shingles.
A basic visual inspection can even be done from the ground. First, check that the color of your roof is relatively consistent. Light patches, dark patches, or areas of discoloration can indicate mold or areas where the protective granules have come off. In addition to looking at the color, look at the texture of your roof. The texture should be mostly uniform across your roof. If you have traditional three-tab asphalt shingle, your roof’s surface should be flat. If you have architectural shingle or another roofing material, the texture should be consistent across your roof. Inconsistencies can be signs of damaged shingles that are curling, bowing, or coming loose.
As we said before, the busy season for roofers starts in late summer and extends through the autumn months. That’s because this time of year is when many homeowners wake up to the idea that winter is coming. Concerned homeowners call on roofers to inspect and repair their roofs before colder weather hits.
If you haven’t had a roof inspection lately, now is a great time to do it. But contact us soon, because appointments fill up quickly this time of year. Here at Eagle Watch Roofing, we take each roof seriously and want to take our time to make sure you get a top-notch inspection. If you need repairs, we use high-quality materials and techniques to make your roof even stronger than it was before. So contact us now to get your roof ready for winter.