Five Roof Leak Protection Tips For The Winter Months

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It’s winter in the midwest and even though it has been a relatively mild one so far, you still want to make sure your roof is protecting your home from roof leaks when the inevitable rain and snow arrive. If you are not comfortable with climbing up on the roof, you can look through a pair of binoculars for a close visual inspection of your shingles or, you can also have a certified professional come out and do the inspection.

Protecting Your Home From Roof Leaks In Winter

1. Check The Roof Sub Structure To Make Sure It Is Sound


The roof sub structure is the plywood decking material that is placed over the framework of the roof prior to the application of the underlayment and shingles. The wooden decking material can begin to rot if water has leaked under the shingles in the past. Check the plywood decking for signs of warping. If warping has occurred, you will want to get a professional roofing contractor out to make sure the damage is not extensive.

2. Check The Roof’s Flashing Areas

The flashing areas of the roof are located in valleys, around chimneys, skylights and other penetrations such as vent pipes and side walls that join together with a lower roof plane. These areas are the most prone to leaking so you want to make sure the shingles around them do not appear torn, bent, tattered or broken.

The shingles in the valley area shown in this picture are cracked and broken, indicating it is time for a roof replacement.

3. Inspect The Overall Roof and Gutters

Another critical factor in the integrity of your roof is keeping it free from debris both on the shingles and in the gutters. Clogged gutters can cause them to back up and force heavy rainwater up underneath the shingles. Eventually this water will find its way through to the roof decking and into the attic of your home. Inspect the entire roof as well. If you’ve found a pile of leaves in a valley area, these will need to be removed right away to prevent damage.

4. Consider Having Heavy Snow Removed From Your Roof

Getting up on a ladder to remove anything from a roof after a heavy snowfall can be dangerous. It is best to call a professional for help. If snow has really piled up several feet it can be beneficial to remove it from the critical areas mentioned above including in valleys, along roof lines and eaves. Underneath heavy snow melting will occur. The melting snow can turn to ice and back up under the shingles. If snow is especially several feet deep in valley areas, it can be beneficial to remove it.

If you live in a heavy snowfall area, you may want to consider installing electrical wires along the eave edges to help the snow melt off. This is particularly helpful where snow can accumulate more than 2-3 feet or more every winter.

5. Check The Attic For Condensation

Most people forget that your roof can also be inspected from the inside by looking in the attic. Taking a flashlight, see if you can spot heavy condensation, ice or frost on the underside of the roof decking. If this is the case, your roof ventilation is probably not adequate.

Make sure that your attic insulation does not extend over the soffit areas along the inside perimeter of the attic. Soffits provide air intake holes where fresh air is allowed to come up into the attic and ventilate up and outward through the roof vents at the top. When air is stagnated in the attic, the moisture from inside the home does not have a chance to escape and can freeze or cause frost. When melted, it drips onto the insulation. When moisture drips onto the insulation, it reduces its effectiveness and will allow more heat to escape from your home. Your attic should not be any warmer than the temperature outdoors during winter, and this is achieved through proper attic ventilation.

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  Most Important Questions To Ask Your Roofing Contractor

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When it’s time to get a new roof put on your home, you will want to call several roofing contractors to obtain estimates. But what questions should you ask when they get there? How will you know the right contractor to hire for the job? Here are some tips and suggestions on the hiring the right roofing contractor and making sure they are well qualified to do the job.

Question: Are You Licensed?

Most states require all roofing contractors to be licensed in the state the work is being performed in. It is best to research what is required in your state. Be sure the contractor’s license is up to date. If anything goes wrong with the job, the roofing license if very important.

Question: Do You Have Workman’s Comp Insurance?

Insurance can be expensive and some roofers may try to cut this out to save money. Employers are required by law to carry workman’s comp insurance. What can happen if you hire someone that doesn’t have this insurance? You could end up paying thousands of dollars for their medical bills since the accident happened on your property.

Question: Do You Carry General Liability Insurance?

The roofer’s liability insurance will cover any damage to your house or property caused by the contractor while the job is in progress. For example, if a bundle of roofing shingles falls and comes flying through your window (it has happened) you could end up paying the bills for repairs.

Question: Will You Remove The Old Roof?

If you only have one layer of roofing shingles on your roof, you can decide if you want the single layer removed or if you want the new layer applied over the existing layer. If the existing layer is removed, the job will be more expensive. Just make sure you are comparing apples to apples and all roofers are quoting on the same work.

Question: Will You Install A Drip Edge When You Install The New Roof?

A drip edge is a critical component of the roofing system. The drip edge is generally made of aluminum and extends past the edge of the roof to guide the flow of rainwater directly into the gutter. Water damage can occur if the drip edge is missing or not installed properly.

Question: Will You Install An Ice And Water Barrier?

Roof leak barriers help prevent leaks due to water damming, wind-driven rain and damaging ice dams. Ice and water shield is applied at eave and rake edges and in valleys. These are the areas most prone to water leakage. It is also recommended around skylights, roof dormers, chineys, vent pipes and other flashing areas.

Question: Does The Roofing Company Have A Local Address?

Many contractors will only list a Post Office box on their business card. Make sure they can provide you with an actual street address and phone number. If it takes the crew an hour or more to get to your home from their location, you may not get the most prompt response time or the best service.

Question: Will The Company Provide References Or Referrals From Previous Jobs?

It is perfectly fine to ask for photos or addresses of previous jobs. Also request phone numbers of some previous customers so you can check on customer satisfaction.

Question: Does The Company Have A Workmanship Warranty?

A roofer who stands behind their work will provide a workmanship warranty that generally lasts one year. You mainly want to know if the roofer will stand behind their work. Problems with application will show up early and you want to make sure the roofer will return to fix any issues with workmanship that arise.

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