The last thing you want to be doing in winter is worrying about the state of your roof. After all, the cold season often heralds in the holiday season and should be for relaxing with family and friends – a nice, peaceful end to a long year. You can’t just take things on faith and hope that nothing goes wrong, however; the first step towards a worry-free winter is to make sure, going into the cold season, that you’re not overlooking any present, or potential problems.
Clues in the attic
Before going out to check on the roof from the outside, climb up to the attic and check for the following:
Water leaks – using a flashlight, look for dripping water and signs of condensation. Be on the lookout for water stains on your attic’s ceiling, walls, and floor.
Ventilation – faulty attic ventilation is a cause of many winter roof problems. Check to make sure that your attic vents are clear of debris.
Animal damage – birds and other small animals, such as bats, squirrels, and raccoons, can wreak havoc in your attic. If you see any nests or droppings (they don’t have to be fresh) or signs of gnawing on wood, insulation, or wires, contact a pest control professional immediately.
Structural damage – if you see any visible damage, such as sagging in the roof, schedule a roof inspection and repair as soon as possible.
Signs on the roof
If the attic checks out, check on the state of your roof from the outside.
Roof damage – look for patches of loose or missing roofing; these are areas where your roof is vulnerable to the elements. Depending on the material your roof is made from, look for curling, cracking, and loss of granules (for asphalt shingles) or cracking and holes in the material (for tile and metal).
Shingle granules – specific to asphalt shingles. If you’re seeing a lot of shingle granules in your downspouts and gutters, your shingles are likely near the end of their lifespan and need to be replaced.
Damaged or missing flashing – check around chimneys, roof vents, roof windows, and skylights for cracks or gaps in the flashing.
Clogged gutters – make sure that your gutters and downspouts are free of debris.
What happens if, after inspecting your roof, problems come up during the winter? Stay tuned for more on this in Part II.