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Preparing Your Roofing For A Winter Of Abuse

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With winter coming, now's the time to get up and check on the condition of your roofing. Waiting until the first flake falls will do nothing but make the process more miserable for you. Here, you'll find a short checklist of what needs to be done to the roof before it's coated in snow.

Start Inside

Head up to your attic with a flashlight. Look for areas in which water seems to have penetrated the wood in the attic. Focus on the areas around the vents, chimney and the valleys. Anything that has been water-damaged will be a little darker than the surrounding materials. If you see dark spots, go to the area and feel it with your hand—does it feel slightly colder than the surrounding materials? If so, there is water trapped inside the material and you have a leak that needs to be tended to.

Take note of all of the trouble spots so that you can check the roofing from above.

Head to the Roof

Before you climb up on the roof, make sure that you fully understand how to stay safe during this project.

  • Wear rubber-soled boots with good traction
  • Inspect the ladder for damage before using it
  • Make sure that the ladder is positioned with the feet on a solid, level surface
  • Don't work alone—make sure someone is at least home to call for help if you should need it
  • Don't work in inclement weather—wait until a nice sunny day with limited winds

Start your roofing inspection in the areas in which you found the leaks but be careful—the wood may have rotted under the shingles and has become soft. If the roofing feels soft, avoid the area and call your roofing contractor immediately.

Remove any debris piled up on the roof. Look for any areas that have become damaged—tears in the shingles, lifting shingles, discolored areas, shingles that don't have aggregate left on them. Anything that doesn't look quite right needs to be noted and repaired.

Also check the seals around the chimney and vents. The rubber roofing cement used to seal those areas can dry out and crack over the years and it will need to be replaced.

If you don't feel comfortable completing this project, talk with your local roofing contractor ( He or she will gladly assist you with preparing your roofing for a winter of abuse and you'll know that it is done professionally.