Outsmart the Snow With These 7 Roof Winterizing Tips

Kristi Pahr
Written by Kristi Pahr
Reviewed by Ami Feller
Updated February 25, 2022
Exterior of a house in the snow
Photo: Perry Mastrovito / Image Source / Getty Images

Don’t get left out in the cold with a leaky roof this winter

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Winter can be a relaxing time—snuggling in front of a fire in warm slippers and a fluffy robe. The last thing you want to deal with in the dead of winter is a leaky roof from snow and ice. Before you get caught in an unwanted icy deluge in your living room, take a look at the following tips to winterize your roof.

Do I Need to Winterize My Roof?

First, you may wonder if you even need to winterize your roof. Winter can be hard on a roof, especially if you live in a snowy climate. The buildup of snow and ice can cause winter roof leaks. It can also damage roofing materials, cause mold or mildew to develop in your attic, and even cause partial or total roof collapses that may lead to a roof replacement. Even in warmer climates, where winters are rainy or windy, you can mitigate possible damage by taking a few simple steps to ensure your roof is in good condition and will last for years to come.

7 Tips For Winterizing Your Roof

1. Check Your Gutters

Clogged gutters prevent ice and snowmelt from leaving the surface of the roof. If gutters have leaves and debris inside, meltwater can build up in the gutter trough and turn to ice. That ice can back up under shingles and cause damage to your roofing materials.

2. Remove Overhanging Sticks and Branches

Limbs and branches that hang over your roof can become dangerous when snow and ice pile on in the winter. The added weight can cause limbs to bend and snap, posing a potential hazard to your roof. Trim tree branches back far enough that they don’t hang over the roof—the general rule of thumb is that all foliage should be at least 3 feet away from the roof. If the branches are too high or your roof pitch is too steep to be safe for walking on, call in a professional tree trimmer to complete the job safely.

3. Visually Inspect the Roof for Damage

Damaged roof with missing shingles
Photo: Douglas Sacha / Moment / Getty Images

Give your roof a thorough once-over to check for damage to shingles, vents, flashing, and other roofing materials. If you notice damage, give a local roofing professional a call for a more thorough inspection and estimate on any necessary repairs.

4. Inspect Your Attic

Attic ventilation and insulation are vital for maintaining a healthy roof over the winter. If your attic isn’t adequately insulated or ventilated, you can develop ice dams that can damage your roof or moisture and condensation inside the attic, which can turn into mold, mildew, and rot. If you spot any signs of these issues, have a local roofing or attic professional take a look.

5. Check for Pest Damage

Weather isn’t the only nuisance that can damage your roof. Pests like termites and vermin like squirrels can wreak havoc on your roof and attic supports. If you see pest damage, get in touch with a local exterminator or wildlife worker to remove the troublesome animal and call your roofer for an inspection.

6. Check Your Chimney

Your chimney gets a lot of use during the winter, and if it’s not in good shape, it can cause problems not just inside, but up on the roof as well. Check the flashing surrounding the chimney for gaps, tears, and bends. Your local roofing company can help you if you notice any flashing issues.

7. Plan for Snow Removal 

Maybe you’ve been a model roof owner and tackled all six tips above. Great job winterizing your roof—but your job isn’t done. Once winter hits, and it’s snowing (or slushing) on a regular basis, you should plan to remove snow from your roof.  

If snow and ice builds up on your roof, it could cause ice dams which can damage your roof and lead to costly repairs. You can hire a local roof cleaner to safely remove the snow and ice so you can stay comfortable (and warm) inside.

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