Midwest winters can be beautiful. There’s nothing quite like those bright nights after a big snowfall when the world feels silent, except for the sound of shovels scraping against the sidewalks. ☃️

But even the most stunning winters can simultaneously wreak havoc.

  • The snow may melt and turn into ice or slush, making your morning commute long and dangerous. 🚗
  • Freezing temperatures threaten important aspects of your home, like plumbing pipes and your roof. 🥶

If you live somewhere that experiences harsh winters each year, you can take steps to protect your home and make your life easier (and less expensive!) when spring feels so far away. This winter roofing guide will walk you through how to prep your roof before winter and how to keep your roof functioning in the thick of it.

6 Winter Roofing Tips for a Safe Home

Some of the most important winter roofing tips should actually be implemented before winter strikes. You want to prepare as best you can so that you’re not stuck needing roofing service in the middle of a blizzard. Other tasks can be completed in the midst of the winter months.

1) Get a Roofing Inspection in Fall

October or early November is a fantastic time to get started with your winter roofing prep. Getting a professional roof inspection is our #1 tip because it’s one of the most important things you can do to protect your home and save money.

Most people would agree that it’s best to catch issues before they turn into large, expensive problems, right? Scheduling roof inspections does just that.

A professional roofing contractor will use their expertise to look for roofing red flags that may otherwise be hard to spot from the ground. After the inspection, the roofing contractor will write up a detailed report of what they found and the roofing services they suggest.

Some of the vital winterizing services your contractor can provide include:

  • Sealing holes: Pests like squirrels and mice love to find a warm place to burrow in the winter, and this can include your attic! A contractor will seal any holes they find to prevent pests from getting into your home and wreaking havoc.
  • Keeping flashing weather-tight: If any of the metal flashing on your roof is loose or damaged, that can be a quick recipe for water damage, especially when snow accumulates on your roof. Your contractor can re-seal or replace any faulty flashing to protect you from leaks.
  • Repairing any loose shingles: Damaged, curling, or loose shingles present the opportunity for leaks and expensive water damage. A roof inspection will pinpoint if you have any compromised shingles, so you can have them repaired before winter.
  • Checking your ventilation: Proper ventilation is key for a healthy roof, especially in winter. We’ll go into more details about attic ventilation below, but a professional contractor can clue you in if you need more ventilation.

2) Clear Out Your Gutters

winter roofing clean out gutters often

You should get in the habit of cleaning out your gutters at least twice a year. Clogged gutters can keep your roofing system from working properly, and when you add snow and ice to the mix, things can quickly get messy.

The end of autumn is the perfect time to clear out your gutters, especially since there will be a lot of leaf debris from the changing of seasons. This is a pretty common DIY task, so you can attempt to do it yourself. Just be sure to wear gloves, use a sturdy ladder, and only work in small sections at a time. Don’t overextend your reach while standing on a ladder because you risk falling!

If you have a particularly tall house or simply don’t feel comfortable or able to clean out your own gutters, you can hire a roofing or gutter cleaning service to complete the task for you.

Additionally, consider installing gutter guards if you don’t have them already! This fantastic product helps keep your gutters and downspouts clear of debris throughout the year.

3) Trim Overhanging Branches

This next tip should be implemented all year round. Tree branches that extend over your roof can break off during strong winds. But in winter especially, heavy snow sitting on top of the branches can cause them to break.

If a tree branch or limb falls on your roof, it can puncture holes into your roof, loosen shingles, or cause other damage. Because of this, it’s important to trim tree branches that extend over your home.

Don’t attempt to trim overhanging tree branches yourself, as this is a very dangerous task. Always hire a professional tree trimming service to complete the task for you.

4) Ensure Proper Attic Ventilation

Attic ventilation is easy to overlook, but it’s one of the most vital components of your roofing system. Proper attic ventilation:

  • Promotes airflow throughout your entire house
  • Keeps your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter
  • Lowers energy bills
  • Helps prevent ice dams in winter

You may have a hunch that your roof vents need an upgrade if parts of your house feel very warm and others feel cold or if your energy bills spike without an increase in usage. However, the best way to know for sure is to check in with the professional roofer who performs your inspection. They should already inspect your attic as a part of your inspection and will take note of opportunities for better ventilation before winter sets in.

While you’re at it, make sure you have enough insulation in your attic to keep your home and roof performing their best.

5) Have a Plan of Attack for Ice Dams

winter roofing prevent ice dams

Oh, ice dams… No homeowner wants to deal with them. Ice dams occur when your roof’s eaves are colder than its main surface. Warm air from your home or the sun cause snow or ice to melt and flow downward. An ice dam forms if that water re-freezes when it reaches the eaves.

Ice dams can expand and push their way underneath your shingles. Yikes!

If you follow through with these winter prep tips, you’ll have a much lower risk of developing ice dams. However, they’re still possible. It’s wise to be prepared to handle ice dams, just in case.

The safest way to remove ice dams is to have your preferred local roofing company on call. But a proven DIY method is:

  • Fill long socks or tights with calcium chloride deicer and place them along the edges of your roof. The calcium chloride helps melt the ice. (Avoid rock salt deicers, as these can damage your shingles.)

6) Remove Large Accumulations of Snow

Not every snowfall constitutes you removing snow from your roof. But if a foot or more of wet, heavy snow has built up on your roof, you should definitely remove it.

Resist the temptation to use your regular snow shovel to perform this task. Instead, pick up a specialized roof rake from your local home improvement store. Place the roof rake at the edge of your roof and pull downward to remove the snow.

Remain on the ground for the entirety of this project. Standing on a ladder or attempting to get onto your roof in snowy conditions is very slippery and dangerous, and you would risk serious injury by doing so. Make sure to dress in warm layers, take plenty of breaks indoors, and stay clear of overhead powerlines.

This is a strenuous project! Don’t attempt to remove snow from your roof if you don’t feel confident or able or if you have a history of cardiac issues. You can always hire a professional roofing company to perform this project for you.

Can You Get a Full Roof Replacement in Winter?

Following these winter roofing tips will help keep your roof in good shape, especially if it’s nearing the end of its lifespan. If you have an older roof (12+ years for asphalt shingles), you should start preparing for a roof replacement.

While it can be possible to perform a roof replacement in winter if there isn’t snow or ice on the ground, it’s not recommended. And many roofing companies won’t offer the service in winter.

Instead, think ahead and schedule an inspection before winter kicks in. You may even opt for a durable metal roof that sheds snow easily!

Gouge Is Your Roofing Partner in Every Season

We hope this winter roofing guide helps prepare your home for the winter season. And as you get started with a professional inspection, Gouge Quality Roofing would be happy to share our expertise and help keep your home protected.

Reach out to the Gouge team today to schedule your free inspection!