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How to winter-proof your roof

Justin Stoltzfus

Winter is a time that many homeowners truly appreciate having a roof over their heads. Yet if you don’t properly maintain your roof, you could find yourself out in the cold — and paying for expensive repairs. Here are some ways winter can damage your roof and some tips for preventing them.

Ice dams

Ice dams happen when heat from the attic melts ice and snow. That water trickles down the roof, turning to ice when it reaches the cooler edges. That ice builds up, causing water to puddle behind it — and leak into your home.

To prevent ice dams, State Farm recommends insulating the attic properly to prevent melting on the roof. Seal up spaces between the top floor rooms and the attic to prevent warm air from getting into the attic — and check ceiling electrical fixtures to see whether gaps or holes are letting warm air in as well.

Do not use corrosive chemicals or put space heaters in the attic to remove ice and snow from the roof, according to State Farm.

Wildlife and bad weather

Winter storms, and the high winds, hail and snow that come with them, can all pummel your roof. And animals seeking shelter from the cold can cause damage as well. VIP Roofing Services, a Phoenix contractor, offers these general tips for roof maintenance:

  • Make sure all shingles and tiles are in good shape before winter arrives.
  • Remove debris from roofs, gutters and downspouts. Once the snow melts, you’re going to want the water to be able to drain away from your home.
  • Make sure apertures like attic vents are screened to prevent wildlife from entering.
  • Trim tree branches that encroach on your home or hang over your roof. Winter winds could send them crashing through your house.
  • Some homes also benefit from high-tech roof cabling that can melt away ice and snow correctly, allowing for drainage away from the roof.

Insurance coverage

Your home insurance should cover many roof-related damages. Policies generally cover water damage caused by ice dams, according to the Insurance Information Institute. And storm damage also is generally covered. However, filing insurance claims is time-consuming — and you probably will have to pay your deductible first. Your best protection, therefore, is prevention.

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