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Top 5 Winter Roof Maintenance Tips

Every year, people living in the GTA can expect a variety of weather conditions throughout the months of the winter season.

For some homeowners and building owners, an unexpected and unwelcome surprise can come in the form of roof leaks or interior damage, as a result of harsh winter conditions.

Where roofs are concerned; it is important to think about necessary maintenance before winter bares down on our region. To avoid or minimize such potential roof related perils; consider the following tips listed below.

If your flat or sloped roof is less than five years old, you likely have very little to worry about, other than some of these top five routine maintenance items.

1. Clean your eavestroughs, downpipes, and roof drains(if you have a flat roof). This represents the most common reason people have “winter leaks”. When guttering is clogged, and or, water cannot flow easily to downpipes and drains; leaks resulting from water backing up, are very common. Tap downpipes, particularly at elbow joints; to test for blockage. It will feel solid if clogged or sound “hollow” if the pipes are clear. When checking your guttering, inspect for drips or leaks at the inside and outside corners, and at gutter terminations called the end caps.

2. Inspect key components of the roof. This includes a number of items:

Related Content: Knowing when it is Time to Replace Your Eavestroughs

On sloping roofs; look over metal work around the base of chimneys, walls, skylights, and appliance areas. Observe the roof vents and pipe protrusions through the roof. Look over slopes to detect missing shingles, slate tiles, or cedar shakes/shingles. Look for obvious signs of wear such as granule loss from the surface of shingles, also splits, curling, or cracking.

On flat roofs, look at perimeter metal flashings which can include exterior parapet caps, copings, and wall metal. Inspect for missing or deficient caulking, open gaps between metal pieces, pieces which are or may be vulnerable to blow off. Also key is to check roof drains for blockage from debris.

Look over the surface of the flat roof. Sheet roofing (such as modified bitumen membranes); have seams between the adjacent sheets. Check for open seams, wrinkles in the surface of the material, and detail areas such as drains and skylights.

3. Look in your attic. Often what you cannot see from the outside can be spotted by looking inside the attic. Specifically, shine a light on the underside of the plywood sheeting or roof boards. Look for areas of daylight, and evidence of mould (black colouration), also water stains. Check for signs of animal intrusion, such as from squirrels, raccoons or birds. Note: seeing some daylight around the bottom perimeter of the attic may well be a good thing. This signals that soffit ventilation may be present, and is allowing air into the attic to create air flow designed to drive humid, moist attic air out. Checking the attic also provides an opportunity to check for sufficient levels of insulation, and proper foam sealing around holes for roof penetrations, and around perimeter attic hatches, etc. Proper air sealing and insulation can help prevent occasions of ice damming in many homes.

4. Shovel the snow. Removing excess snow from flat roofs and at the eaves areas of sloping roofs is a sensible way to avoid problems. When a volume of snow gets heavier, after a temperature increase or from heat loss from inside the structure, it’s weight can triple easily. All roofs are built to hold a certain load. Excessive weight can result in collapse of flat roofs. Commercial clients with steel decked roofs or old wood structure roofs can be most vulnerable.

On sloping roofs, scraping back excessive snow from the bottom four feet can make a tremendous difference in helping to avoid leaks due to ice damming. A roof rake is best suited for this task. Using a plastic shovel when removing snow from a flat roof, and not digging to the base surface, helps prevent damaging to roof, but gets the mass of snow off the building. Remember that if the snow melts, now you have a huge volume of water. If the roof is aged, less water means less possible leaks on the interior areas.

5. Hire a properly trained and insured professional. This is worth repeating twice. Most people are not comfortable working at heights, on ladders, or steep roof configurations. Nothing is worth being seriously hurt. If you are enlisting the help of others, make sure they are professionals that carry WSIB coverage for their workers and commercial liability insurance. It is also suggested to request proof of Fall Arrest Training. This is commonly overlooked. But you as the home or building owner can be liable. Government legislation has changed in 2017 to include a property owner as sharing liability with the constructor; If they hire, a company or workers whom do not have proper training, and insurance coverage. For this reason, it is a good idea to establish a relationship with a licensed roofing contractor in advance of any peril. When weather events hit; it can become a supply and demand situation. This has been common practice with large commercial realty owners for years.

To learn more about winter roof maintenance, repairs, and roof replacement, visit

Article Name
Top 5 Winter Roof Maintenance Tips
It is important to think about necessary roof maintenance before winter bares down on our region. Consider the following tips listed.
Heritage Contractors
Cadar Shake & Shingle Bureau
Select Shingle Roofer
Canadian Condominium Institute