With fall comes all of the pageantry: beautiful colors, apple cider donuts and fresh, crisp air. On the other hand, it’s also the changing times with temperatures going all over the place from warm to cold, to freezing to cold again. As well as the time to take out the rake and deal with all the pain of leaf removal before snow hits.
However, one thing that might get overlooked in the Fall is the prep work you can be doing on and around your roof to save money during the winter (when heating bills go up) and prevent problems (like mitigating ice dams or water leaks) before the bitter cold of winter hits.
Take the time to clean your gutters
With the changing autumn colors, comes falling leaves. Somehow, it always magically seems like half of them end up in your gutters, as if laser-guided to their target to precisely clog them up and create maximum discomfort.
Here’s the problem with leaving that problem unattended: it’s going to make ice dam problems worse in the winter.
Leaves, sticks and other debris collecting in your gutter system eventually creates a clog in the downspouts. That means that rain water, rather than being guided down the gutter and directed away from the house as intended, is going to simly overflow.
Overflowing water ends up causing damage to your roof, siding and even your trim. However, what’s worse is that if left for the freezing temperatures in the winter time, the problem of ice dams becomes even worse because the ice is building up around all that debris and flowing over at a worse rate than if they were cleared out.
Fortunately, this is a task that’s easy enough to do it yourself, or avoided in most cases with seamless gutters installed with gutter guards. Worst case, a professional crew can usually clean your gutters out pretty quick for around ~$75 to $100, with usually the highest prices (for the largest homes) being somewhere around $250.
Clear Debris off Your Roof
One of the most common causes of cars getting rust damage along the door frame is actually debris from the fall. It sits there, decomposes and leaves moisture damage behind that eats away at the material and causes rust. The exact same thing happens on your roof and gutters if you leave debris up there without taking care of it.
What happens is, the debris decomposes on your roof, those small bits of debris hold onto moisture and ends up rotting or molding, which gradually breaks down your roofing material.
If your roof is easy to walk on (called a “walker roof”) this is a super quick and easy preventative task you can do – just go up, walk on the roof and you can just brush off the debris with a broom or blow it off with a leaf blower.
Should you decide to do that yourself, just make sure to pay attention to valleys (the areas where two roof sections join together and create a valley), which are the most vulnerable to damage from water. Make sure they’re free of debris so that water can properly drain off them as intended.
If your roof is not a walker roof (e.g. it’s steep), then you should probably consider calling a professional to take care of it, because harnesses will be required for safety.
Check for Damaged or Deteriorating Shingles
With your roof cleaned off, you’re going to want to take the opportunity to inspect for any shingles that are damaged or deteriorating. The easiest way to spot this is to look for cracking, holes or frayed edges. In other words if they don’t look quite the same as all the other shingles (maintaining straight lines for example), then they’re probably damaged.
You should also take that opportunity to check the flashing (the metal parts that usually are between asphalt shingles and features like chimneys or siding). Make sure your flashing doesn’t have any dents or cracks. This is particularly important because most of the time, if you’re going to get a leak, the source is going to be found around the flashing.
If you have to replace damaged shingles, and choose to do it yourself, make sure to consult with the roofer who installed the roof to begin with (unless you have that information from the original contract) and at least get the manufacturer, brand and material type from them so you can order the same shingles to match the rest of the roof.
In the case where you weren’t the one who had the roof replaced or installed, then it’s usually best to have a roofing contractor come out and do an inspection. They should be able to identify the shingle type and color without much issue to make sure the new shingle matches the old.
Shingle repair is always best done by a professional – but it’s entirely possible to DIY this one (you can order a sheet of shingles from hardware stores), we’d recommend reading through or watching the manufacturers install guides and tips.
Attic Insulation and Ventilation Check up
The last item on the list is to check your insulation. Make sure there aren’t any obvious gaps or damage to the insulation in your attic. If there is a problem, the Fall is the time to have that issue addressed because it will save you money immediately when it comes to heating your home in the winter.
Proper insulation saves you from considerable ice dam problems because Ice Dams (most common winter roofing problem) form when warm air from your house seaps up through the attic and warms the snow sitting on the roof just enough that it melts. This melted snow then slides underneath the frozen snow above it and collects in valleys, around gutters and refreezes when it’s exposed to the outside, completely preventing proper water drainage (those icicles might look pretty, but you don’t want them!).
Generally though, you’ll just want to spot checks for any obvious moisture damage, any obvious holes and the general check up type stuff to make sure your insulation is in order. If you do decide to have your insulation replaced, then we’d recommend spray foam insulation because that creates an complete seal around all the areas of the attic, rather than relying on older style insulation that, even when perfectly installed, still has areas where air can escape.