This post originally appeared on gaf.com and was republished with permission.
You work hard to keep that roof over your head. That's why it's important to maintain your home's longevity. Paying attention to the seasonal weather changes that affect your home will save you a significant amount of time and money. And, while you may initially think of the harshest of conditions mother nature throws our way (i.e. hurricanes, tornados, blizzards, etc.), it takes far less to cause deterioration of a home's structure over time. Luckily, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Listed below are damaging weather conditions that arise year-round, and simple ways you (or a service professional) can protect your home.
While many of these solutions can likely be done on your own, if you're looking for contractors, you'll want to be sure they're licensed and insured. You may also want to check online reviews to see what others in your community have to say about them. GAF certified roofing contractors can be sorted on GAF.com based on star recommendation ratings.
Spring / Summer
The spring and summer seasons bring a wave of excitement for warmer weather, beach days, vacations, barbeques, and fun indoor activities. Yet, we often forget that summer can bring about some of the most severe storms, fires, hail, and floods. In fact, nearly 1 in 3 Americans experienced a weather disaster in the summer of 2021** and this trend is expected to continue. So, bracing your home to withstand the elements is more important than ever.
ROOF: Your home's roof system takes the brunt of weather damage. To ensure your roof can hold up to the challenges that mother nature presents, you'll want to regularly check that your roofing system is in good condition to prevent water infiltration into your home.
- Solution #1: Clean your gutters and downspouts as needed to ensure water is running off your roof and away from your home properly. A full or clogged gutter may cause water to back up onto your roof and into your attic and may even cause the gutter itself to fall from excessive weight.
- Solution #2: The best preventative maintenance is having a professional roofing inspection. Spring is an ideal time to hire a licensed roofing contractor to check for missing or damaged shingles from the previous seasons. This in turn can prevent leaks and water damage as the rainy season approaches. Plus, being proactive with roof maintenance can also help with insurance claims, if and where applicable. Don't forget to also take a look at flashing, valleys and other parts of your roof.
ATTICS: For most homeowners, attics are 'out of sight, out of mind' but the summer heat can cause significant problems. Moisture generated by daily routines in the home as well as the exterior elements (i.e. humidity; rain), may accumulate in the attic if there isn't proper ventilation. This can cause a series of problems, including mold and mildew. In addition, poor attic ventilation can cause an increased air conditioning bill during the warmer months due to your HVAC having to work harder. Moreover, improper or nonexistent attic ventilation can cause costly roofing systems and structural problems including mold.
- Solution: Attic ventilation is about ensuring proper balance of intake and exhaust ventilation. The intake vents at the bottom of the roof, typically at the soffit or overhangs, allow external, cooler air into the attic while forcing out the superheated moist air from the exhaust vents, typically at or near the roof's ridge. And while this is the general concept, it's wise to learn more about effective attic ventilation. If you're a visual learner check out this quick 2 minute video, and then discuss your specific home's needs with a roofing professional.
WINDOWS AND DOORS: Any gaps or cracks may allow water to seep through during a rainstorm. Over time the build-up of moisture not only causes water damage, which increases the risk of mold, but also becomes particularly attractive to termites.
Solution: Search your windows and doors for cracks, worn or missing weatherstrips, and peeled or cracked caulk. Replace with the appropriate materials to seal gaps and repel water and moisture.
FOUNDATION: Water trickling through your home's foundation during and after rain storms will cause major damage.
Solution: Be proactive. Inspect and repair any cracks in the foundation. Be sure to check your basement thoroughly for cracks and gaps as well.
LANDSCAPE: In the case of protecting your home from water damage, landscape grading involves sloping the land so that water flows away from a house.
Solution: There is quite a bit more that goes into proper landscaping to ensure proper drainage around the home's exterior, but grading your land is a must to protect your home throughout the seasons. And, with proper guidance it doesn't have to be an expensive task.
HOME'S INTERIOR: Heat and light entering your home not only drives up your energy bill, but also causes fading of your walls, carpets, and furniture. Additionally, high humidity increases the risk for mold.
Solution #1: Close the drapes and blinds and/or consider clear UV-blocking window films that can be installed for added protection.
Solution #2: In addition to keeping a close check on leaks in and around your home, be sure to have any rooms with excess moisture well-ventilated to minimize the chance of mold which is harmful to you- and the structure of your home.
CHECK YOUR TREES: If you have trees that are dead, diseased or hollowed it may not withstand the winds and rainfall from summer storms.
Solution: Have a tree expert check out the trees around your home and remove any that are concerning so that they don't end up harming anyone – or falling on your home.
Fall / Winter
Frigid temperatures, mounds of snow, icicles hanging from the gutters... The cold weather does more than put a damper on your mood – it greatly affects your home. So be prepared before the year's first freeze.
ROOF: Ice dams form when snow or ice melts and then refreezes, causing a buildup of ice at the edge of your roof. Uneven roof temperatures also play a major role in the development of ice dams as warmer temperatures inside the attic cause ice to melt on the upper portion of the roof and then it refreezes as it drains off to cooler parts of the roof, typically near the soffit or overhangs. Ice dams are also typically seen when gutters are blocked as the melted water cannot drain properly. This in turn forces the water to back up under the shingles, which can cause damaging leaks in your attic or living space. There are a few ways you can prepare for the winter:
Solution #1: Before winter hits, remove any debris from your gutters and valleys to prevent clogged gutters.
Solution #2: An extendable roof rake can be used to gently remove snow/ice at the lower edge of the roof line. To be safe and avoid further damage to your shingles, only do this for a one-story home. Do not apply extraneous pressure and don't climb on the roof.
Solution #3: A balanced and effective attic ventilation system can help prevent uneven roof heating by keeping attic temperatures similar to the exterior ambient temperature. When attic temperatures are similar to the exterior temperature, there is a reduction in the freeze thaw cycle which often allows ice dams to form. Check out this short video about attic ventilation.
Solution #4: Consider calling a roofing professional in your area to help prepare your roof for the season.
FOUNDATION: During the winter the ground goes through a freeze/thaw cycle in which it freezes and then melts, over and over. This causes the soil to shift (expand and contract) which means there is movement beneath and around your home's foundation. This can ultimately cause pressure and damage potentially leading to cracks in your foundation.
Solution #1: Repair any cracks in the foundation to prevent water getting in them, which then expands the cracks further as water turns to ice and the freeze/thaw cycle continues.
Solution #2: Fix yard drainage issues. Similar to the ice dam challenge for your roof, the more water that backs up in your yard forces it into and against your home's foundation.
Solution #3: Install a drainage system or sump pump, and make sure there is proper land grading around the home, where the land slopes away from (and not toward) the foundation.
PIPES (INDOOR & OUTDOOR): When water freezes, it expands. This causes pressure within your pipes, and can lead to a burst pipe inside your home, as well as damaged pipes in your outdoor irrigation systems (i.e. sprinkler systems).
Solution #1: Insulate your exposed water pipes. Materials can vary from foam to rubber and may also differ based on whether the pipes carry hot water.
Solution #2: Let your water faucets drip ever so slightly in freezing weather conditions to keep the water continually flowing through your pipes, and thereby help avoid freezing.
Solution #3: Blow out your pipes. This essentially means turning off the main water source to your outdoor irrigation system or sprinklers and draining them so no water is left within them to freeze.
TREE LIMBS: In the winter conditions, weight from snow and ice or low temperatures can cause limbs to break and fall on your roof, power lines, or siding.
Solution: Be sure to prune them during the fall and clear off excessive snow during the winter.
Remember, with proper planning and safety precautions the steps you take now to prevent costly damages will save you time, money, and stress. And if like many others your roof is top of mind, be sure you are working with a certified professional you can trust.