Preparing Your Home's Exterior For Winter
Winter is almost upon us, meaning now is the time to make sure your home's exterior is ready to help you survive the worst winter weather. Rain gutters, roofing and exterior siding should all be inspected before winter's fury arrives to ensure your home is in good condition next Spring.
During severe winters, rain gutters can suffer damage if they are not maintained. Cleaning out your gutters and downspouts will allow melting snow and ice to exit your gutter properly preventing overflows that can damage decks and wood siding or cause excessive water build up around foundations. Make sure you water test the downspouts to confirm that they are draining efficiently. Clean gutters will clog up fast if your downspouts are not clear. If you have a metal roof, make sure your gutter is properly fastened to protect against snow and ice sheets that may break away from your roof and tear the gutter away from the fascia board. Leaf protection such as Leaf-X or Gutter Rx can protect your gutters from snow damage, as they keep your gutters clean.
Wood fiber, cement and composite sidings are vulnerable to flouring or warping from excessive water build up. If you have any of these sidings, check the lower pieces of siding on walls and sections above windows and doors, looking for softness or warping in the product. If you see warping or softness, replace the boards immediately and liberally. Do not allow the problem to spread to other areas as it can lead to a catastrophic failure of the product. Finally, make sure any replacement product is properly painted and sealed before winter hits.
Taking a few precautions with your roof now can prevent difficult to remedy problems this winter. It is very challenging to repair a leaking roof when it is covered with snow and ice. If you have any areas of concern, address them now before the temperatures settle in below freezing and the snow begins to fly. I recommend inspecting the flashing around older skylights, chimneys and areas where walls come into contact with roofing. These are potential problem areas. An older roof that looks to be in good shape may need to be re-sealed in some areas to extend the life of the product. The fall is also a good time to clean pine needles and other debris from valleys that can prevent proper drainage and cause leaks.
Perhaps the most troublesome problem we are faced with in the Inland Northwest is the dreaded ice dam. Ice dams cause roof leaks and destroy gutters, yet they are not caused by your roofing or your rain gutter. The culprit is typically lack of insulation in your ceiling or attic. Not having enough insulation allows heat to rapidly escape through your roof, melting snow even in very cold conditions. This melted snow runs off your roof and re-freezes once it reaches the overhang of your roof. This creates large ice dams that trap melting snow behind them, causing roof leaks. These dams can also distort rain gutters to the point that they tear away from the home.
To prevent ice dams, make sure you have plenty of insulation in your attic. I recommend at least R-49 in our climate. If you are an Avista customer, you may even qualify for a rebate, but be sure to check with a reputable contractor first. A heated gutter system or heat tape is also an option to prevent ice dams.
Examining your home closely today can help prevent problems from developing and allow you to survive the winter with confidence.
By Mark McVay,
McVay Brothers Roofing, Windows, Raingutters, Siding
11420 E. Montgomery Drive Spokane, 928-4686