The kids will be heading back to school in a few weeks and fall will soon be upon us. It’s a magical time of year, with bright coloured falling leaves, cool crisp air in the evenings, and the return of BC’s liquid sunshine.
As we begin buttoning up our jackets, we should give thought to doing the same for our homes. Before the first freeze, here are a few things you should do to prepare your roof for the cold, wet weather ahead.
Trim the trees
Most species of trees grow steadily all year long. Those tiny branches hanging barely above the roof could become a real nuisance by the time spring is here.
Trimming back any branches near the house now can help prevent damage, as well as reduce the volume of leaves that will fall on the roof within a few weeks.
Clean your gutters
You may not associate the summer months with clogged gutters and downspouts, but don’t be tricked by Mother Nature. Summer storms may have driven leaves, needles, twigs and other debris into your gutter system.
As the autumn leaves begin to collect on your roof and in the gutter system, there is a greater risk that they will block the downspouts. Rain water then overflows the gutter, and can damage your trim and siding. With the added weight of soggy, decaying leaves and water buildup, there’s also a chance the gutters could actually pull loose from their anchor points and collapse.
As the leaves are falling, it’s a good idea to remove most of the buildup every week or two with a leaf blower and/or garden hose. Once the trees around your home are bare, a more thorough cleaning is recommended, in preparation for the snow and ice ahead.
Clear off any debris
It’s equally important that you remove leaves, evergreen needles, branches and other debris from the full surface area of your roof. The gunk loves to collect in the valleys, the place where two roof-lines meet.
Even the smallest deposits will hold moisture, and could lead to a mould and rot condition that may damage your roof. If you are experienced in walking on the roof, and feel confident, you should be able to remove any debris with a bristle broom or leaf blower.
BC roofs are subjected to a lot of moisture, from autumn through spring. So while you’re up there, be sure to check your roof for moss, algae and mildew. If you discover one of these conditions, or think you might have, it’s best to have a professional roofer inspect the roof, and treat it where necessary.
Check for damage and deterioration
When your roof is clean, check the surface for missing or curled shingles. If yours is a tile roof, you’ll be looking for some that may be loose or cracked.
Leaks often begin at the flashings around vent stacks, chimneys and skylights. If you discover any defects, or areas that may be suspect, this is the time to have a roofer check the integrity of the roof, before the heavy rain begins.
A damaged or deteriorating roof could produce leaks when the rains come, and also drive up energy costs as temperatures drop.
Check the attic insulation and ventilation
You will also want to take a peek in the attic. Here you’re looking for areas where moisture has built up, and excessive heat. It’s a good idea to check the vents, to make sure none of the local critters have found a refuge from the elements.
During the day, the sun beats upon your roof, heating the air in the attic. Vents at the soffits, ridges and/or gables of your roof should remove much of that heat from the attic. But in some cases, adequate ventilation was never installed when the home was built. In others, the ventilation system may have been compromised in some way.
When the heat is allowed to build up in the attic, it can lead to condensation buildup and moisture damage. Attic heat can also cause the formation of ice dams in the winter. This invites leaks when snow accumulates on your roof. When the hot air has nowhere else to go, it can seep into the living space below, encouraging you to turn on the air conditioning during the cooler months.
Check the insulation carefully. Are there any damp areas, or evidence that it has been wet at some previous time? Look for thin spots, batts that have become detached, or material that does not extend to the edges.
If you discover moisture buildup in the attic, or it seems hotter up there than seems reasonable, you may be overdue for a roof inspection. We use an infrared camera during our scheduled roof inspections and preventative maintenance visits, to evaluate the energy efficiency of your home and check for any potential problem areas.
A few hours every fall can significantly extend the life of your roof and help you catch small problems before they become big ones. If you have any questions at all, please shoot us an email.