From the Top

— By Tom Dawson —

How to prep your roof for winter.


Winter and colder weather are coming — which means snowfall and ice dams and, if you do not prepare correctly, roof leaks. Did you know that it costs businesses roughly five times more to repair a roof in the winter when snow and ice are present because of the increased labor needed to complete the job? Here are some simple tips and preparation steps to help you avoid expensive wintertime roof leaks.

Schedule An Inspection Before The Snow Falls

Tom Dawson, RoofingSource

Defects in roofs tend to worsen with freezing temperatures and inclement weather. With that being said, it is important to make sure you have a proper roof inspection before the weather gets colder to prevent further issues. If moisture gets into the membrane’s cracks and crevices, it can cause the roof to freeze and expand, which will create an even larger deficiency. This is also true for open laps, as it’s easier for moisture to get in, causing the defect to become even larger. You will be able to save a significant amount of money by being proactive and having an inspection before the cold winter weather arrives.

Clean Off Debris

It is crucial to make sure your roof is clean of debris before the weather gets bad. Gutters, drains and downspouts should be free of debris so that water can exit the roof as quickly as possible. If you do not clean the debris, there will be an increased chance that ice dams will form once the moisture freezes, thus creating a bigger problem at hand. Clogged drains and scuppers in the winter can cause large amounts of ice buildup. If clogged, downspouts and external drain lines can crack, causing expensive replacements.

Limit Roof Access To Third Parties Or In-House Maintenance

Allowing third parties on your roof can increase liability and the chance of creating damage to your roof. Third parties can also bring incorrect equipment like a spade shovel or rake on your roof, causing additional and expensive damage. Any type of shovel is the wrong shovel. Many times people think that hiring a handyman to clean the roof is a good idea. However, he will typically cause more harm than good. Using pressure washers, non-compatible degreasers and cleaning agents will exponentially deteriorate a roof system. Limited access will also decrease the likelihood of a slip, trip and fall because wet roofs are more slippery than dry. If you need roof maintenance or repairs done, call a professional roofing contractor.

Do Not Snow Blow Your Roof

It may sound crazy, but we have seen it done. A snow blower can severely damage the membrane of your roof and create unnecessary damage. Additionally, the liability incurred is high as well. There can be numerous hidden hazards under the snow such as electrical penetrations, gas lines, etc., that a snow blower can damage and cause serious injury. Instead, make sure to call a roofing contractor that is trained in rooftop snow removal.

Do Not Put Salt On Your Roof

Do not put salt on your roof! Sodium chloride, or rock salt, is highly corrosive. It will damage the roofing, siding, gutters and downspouts, and the poisonous runoff will kill foundation plants. Using incorrect salt not only damages your rooftop, but causes costly destruction to the rest of your building’s envelope.

Install Heat Tape With Caution

In many municipalities, it’s against code to install heat tape or cables along the drains and gutters. This is because they have been shown to overheat and eventually cause fires. However, heat tape can be beneficial in some cases. For example, it can be useful to install within metal gutters and downspouts to keep them from freezing. The gutters and downspouts should be free of debris before installation. With that being said, it is important to make sure to never apply it to the actual membrane because it could potentially damage the membrane.

As you’ve learned, it’s extremely important to prioritize the maintenance of your roof before the colder weather hits. If you choose to not do so, you could be facing unnecessary hefty bills to complete repairs. When in doubt, if you have questions or concerns about your roof, make sure you always call a certified roofing contractor to inspect your roof and give you professional advice.



— Tom Dawson is director of operations & sales at Chicago-based RoofingSource, the go-to roofing partner for the nation’s leading brands. RoofCare, RoofingSource’s flagship program, provides a leak-free guarantee at a fixed-price. For more information, email [email protected].



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