Pennsylvania residents typically enjoy mild fall and spring weather, but temperatures can reach the extremes during the summer and winter. Pennsylvania homeowners have lots of things to worry about when it comes to home maintenance throughout the year, but the winter is especially hard on most homes in the Keystone State. One of the most important parts of the home, and one that requires consistent attention, is the roof. If you own a home in Pennsylvania, you should recognize the importance of winter roof maintenance and know the issues proper maintenance can help prevent.
The winter in Pennsylvania not only brings very low temperatures, but also a great deal of precipitation in the form of heavy snow, sleet, ice, and a wintry mix of snow and cold rain. The Pennsylvania winter also often brings heavy winds. All these factors can easily lead to roof damage, especially for homeowners who neglect proper winter roof maintenance.
Most Major Roof Damage in Pennsylvania Happens During the Winter
The heavy precipitation during the winter can easily cause serious damage to a roof, especially if the roof is already in poor shape entering the winter season. A well-maintained roof is more likely to resist winter damage, so Pennsylvania homeowners should make every effort to clean and repair small issues with their roofs before the fall season ends. It’s not uncommon for roofs in poor shape to sustain serious damage like displaced shingles, roof bed damage, and even partial collapses from winter weather.
Scheduling regular roof inspections with a professional roofer is a cornerstone of good roof maintenance, so it’s important to plan for at least one or two inspections each year. In Pennsylvania, it’s wise to schedule a roof inspection toward the end of the fall or during the first weeks of winter before temperatures plummet and heavy precipitation becomes more common. It’s also a good idea to verify your insurance coverage before the winter begins. Check what kind of coverage you have, what type of winter storm damage would be covered under your policy, and any obligations you might have when it comes to specific maintenance issues.
Flashing Issues Can Lead to Leaks
Most of Pennsylvania receives a lot of snowfall during the winter, and you’re going to need to ensure your roof is well protected against leaks from melting snow. The flashings on your roof are thin strips of protective material that typically surround protrusions from your roof, such as the chimney, roof vents, or around skylights. Improper or damaged flashings can allow melting snow to leak into the roof bed, and eventually into the attic.
One of the worst parts of having a roof leak is it can potentially take a long time to notice the problem, all the while water continues to stream into your home and cause damage to the structures beneath your roof shingles like the roof bed, joists, and walls of your attic. It’s vital to spot leaks early, and the best protection against roof leaks is regular inspections. After rainfall or any kind of precipitation, take time to investigate your attic or the crawl space beneath your roof. If you notice any wet spots, you need to arrange roof repairs as soon as possible. Be sure to check along the walls, around your chimney, and near all the vents in your roof so you can spot flashing issues as soon as possible.
Gutters Are More Likely to Fail During the Winter
Your home’s gutter system is one of the most important parts of your roof. It’s responsible for diverting snowmelt and rainwater off your roof and away from your home through the downspouts, and Pennsylvania winters can be extremely hard on older gutter systems. One of the best times of the year for cleaning gutters is the end of the fall, after all the trees on your property have shed their leaves but before winter precipitation strikes. If you want to keep your gutter system as strong as possible for the winter, start by keeping it clean.
As you clean your gutters, check to make sure it is still securely fastened into place around your roof. Pay close attention for any spots that appear damaged, corroded, or loose. These are the places most likely to sustain damage during the winter. When water enters gaps in your gutters and lingers as the temperature drops, it will freeze, thaw, and then refreeze, eventually weakening the gutter while also increasing the chances of water leaking into your home. Prevent this by regularly cleaning your gutters and addressing any weak spots before winter starts.
Severe Winter Wind in Pennsylvania Might Damage Your Roof
Pennsylvania experiences high winds frequently during the winter. Take time during the fall to do a quick visual inspection of the outside of your roof. If you notice any spots where the shingles appear discolored, chipped, or missing, a high wind could easily dislodge more shingles from the area and lead to extensive damage. Also check your gutters and around your downspout drainage areas for shingle granules. If you notice many granules, it might be a good idea to arrange shingle replacement for your home before the winter arrives. Professionally installed shingles will offer better wind protection if the winter brings high winds, and a metal roof offers superior wind resistance compared to traditional asphalt shingle roofs.
Debris Accumulation on Your Roof Can Rot and Cause Damage
Most Pennsylvania homeowners have trees or woods on their properties, and leaves, twigs, and other debris can accumulate on a roof quite easily. Neglecting to remove this debris before the winter arrives can cause big problems. This organic matter will eventually start to break down and rot, and this chemical process will affect your roof. Metal debris, although relatively rare, can cause severe corrosion to metal roofs. If your roof is covered in debris before a heavy snowfall, the snow will eventually start to melt and speed up this process. Rotting leaves and other debris on your roof will not only damage the roof itself but may also attract pests into your home.
Regular professional inspections and prompt action when small issues occur can prevent major problems during severe winter weather. Upgrading from an asphalt shingle roof to a metal roof is another great way to protect your roof during the winter. Schedule a roof inspection before the winter weather takes hold and be sure to conduct regular spot checks as often as possible to keep your Pennsylvania home’s roof in top condition.