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Preparing Your Roof and Gutters for Winter
By Kimberly Duncan
Winterizing your home is a process that begins at the top and continues down the exterior and then inside. Your roof and gutters are the first line of defense against snow, ice, and moisture so they need to be in good shape before winter's icy grip takes hold. Regular maintenance and routine repairs should keep you well prepared for anything, but an inspection in the fall is always a good idea. Here's a basic checklist you can follow:
- Check your shingles first. Make sure they are nailed down properly and replace any that are missing. Spray your roof down with a hose on a clear warm day and check inside to see if there are any leaks. Also, examine areas where chimneys or exhaust stacks are present and check the bases to make sure they are sealed properly.
- Check your gutters. While you're up on the roof, check your gutters and make sure they are cleaned out and functioning properly. To avoid clogging in the fall, install leaf guards. They're not very expensive and they can save you a messy cleaning task each year.
- Clear downspouts. Use a hose and blast some water down your downspouts to clear any clogs. If water is running out too close to the house, install extensions to direct water from the downspouts further away. For best results, water from gutters and downspouts should be hitting the ground six to eight feet away from the house.
- Insulate the inside. There should be a layer of insulation inside beneath your roof. This keeps heat in and keeps cold out. It can also help prevent ice dams on the roof itself. Escaping heat can warm the rooftop enough to cause snow melt which will freeze in your gutters and downspouts on a cold day.
While you're winterizing your roof and gutters, you might want to take a little time to check the overall drainage of your property. Pooling water in the winter can cause dangerous patches of ice to form on walking and driving areas. When you check your downspouts, pay close attention to where the water goes when it drains out. Your property may need to be graded to help with drainage or your driveway or walkway may need to be repaired. These precautions can prevent injury in the winter and are very important particularly if there are senior citizens or children present in the home.
Another area of concern with your roof and gutters is anywhere that water leaks from gutters and icicles form. These can usually be avoided if you clean your gutters and downspouts properly and insulate inside, but may still form in seasons when precipitation is heavy. Doorways should have awnings over them to protect residents of the home when entering and exiting, and everyone should be made aware of the dangers of falling ice. Icicles can be pretty to look at but can cause injury if you're not paying attention. Take proper precautions and you can enjoy a safe, warm and dry winter.
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