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What Winter Does to Your Roof, Windows, and Gutters

You already know that winter can take a toll on your health, mood, and even your waistline — but did you know it can also cause significant wear and tear on your home?

Ice, rain, snow, and even extreme cold can do a number on your roof, windows, and gutters. In many cases, the freeze-thaw cycle can also cause damage. Here are winter weather issues to watch for, as well as ways to protect your property from Old Man Winter.

What Winter Does to Your Roof

There are several ways cold and wet weather can damage your home’s roof. Heavy accumulations of ice and snow put extra weight on your roof, which can accelerate wear and tear. In areas of the country that experience heavy snowfall, roof collapses can also be a risk.

Although snow-related roof collapses are comparatively rare, they do happen. According to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, most residential roofs in good condition should be able to accommodate 20 pounds per square foot of snow before experiencing stress.

It’s also important to remember that packed snow weighs more than new snow. For example, 10-12 inches of new snow weighs about five pounds per square foot of roof space, which means a roof can withstand up to four feet of fresh powder. If you’re dealing with packed snow, however, it takes just three to five inches to reach a weight of five pounds per square foot of roof area, which means anything more than two feet of old snow could cause your roof to become stressed.

Snow accumulations can also melt and refreeze, causing ice dams that trap water on the roof, gutters, and downspouts. A home framed by wintery white icicles may look pretty, but icicles are usually a sign that ice has built up along the eaves, where it sits — and sits — allowing moisture into your home.

Joe Hurst-Wajszczuk of This Old House magazine says the easiest way to prevent ice dams is to keep the whole roof the same temperature as the eaves. This can be achieved by:

  • Pairing a ridge vent with a continuous soffit vent that circulates cold air under the roof.
  • Putting a cover over your attic hatch.
  • Ensuring all ducts connected to the kitchen, bathroom, and dryer vents lead outdoors.
  • Adding insulation around your attic floor.
  • Installing sealed can lights.
  • Adding flashing around your chimney.
  • Sealing and insulating HVAC and exhaust ducts.
  • Caulking around electrical cables and vent pipes.

If it’s time to replace your roof, consider adding a gutter system specifically designed to move water away from your home as quickly as possible. For example, Englert® RainPro gutters direct water away from a home’s roof while boasting a low profile.

If you’re worried about deep accumulations of snow on your roof — and winter weather predictions aren’t promising a thaw any time soon — you can purchase special roof rake tools designed to remove snow without damaging the shingles and other parts of the roof. For especially deep snow, however, it’s probably best to contact a roof snow removal company.

What Winter Does to Your Windows

Frosty windows adorn many a holiday greeting card, but they’re not something you want to see in real life.

As Jennifer Noonan at Bob Vila explains, frost forms on windows when the air is moist inside the home and cold outside the home. The moisture inside is drawn to the window pane, and it solidifies as soon as outside temps dip below the dew point.

When the frost melts, it becomes liquid again, and this liquid needs somewhere to go — the window frame, the sill, and down the wall. Over time, this moisture can cause mold to grow.

To prevent water damage and mold, take steps to stop frost from forming in the first place. You can do this by weather sealing windows with window and door weather stripping. Once the weather stripping is installed, caulk around any gaps. Modern window designs like those available from Greenline windows incorporate sophisticated weatherstripping, so you know your home is protected even in the coldest weather.

What Winter Does to Your Gutters

Ice buildup in your gutters stops water from moving away from your roof. And as ice continues to form, it gets very heavy very quickly. Eventually, ice buildup can cause a gutter to pull away from the home. Even worse, the snow and ice sitting on your roof will seep underneath and infiltrate your home.

Fortunately, preventing this is an easy fix. Clean your gutters at least once a year — more if you have mature trees that overhang your roof and gutters. You can also install gutter screens, such as MicroGuard gutter screens from Englert®.

Is Your Home Ready for a New Look?

Winter weather can be brutal on your home’s exterior. Prevent damage by taking steps to winterize your home’s roof, windows, and gutters. You can also protect your investment by replacing your old roof and updating your home’s windows. Contact Nu Look Home Design today to learn what we can do for your home.

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