2 Tips To Help You Prepare Your Flat Or Low-Sloped Roof For Winter

Your home's roof protects you and your family from winter weather and harsh sun. It is important to take some time each fall to maintain and prepare your roof, flat or sloped, for winter's snow and ice. Here are two tips to help you ready your flat or low-sloped roof for winter.

Clean Debris From the Roof

To prepare your roof for winter, the first task you should complete is cleaning debris and dirt from the roof. Over the summer and and fall, leaves, branches, and other wind-blown debris can collect on your roof. If you leave this debris on your roof, it can add unnecessary weight and allow ice to collect upon the surface. Debris can also clog your roof's drainage system, including drains and scuppers, preventing rain and snow melt from exiting your roof. This can lead to pooling water and increase your home's chance of leaks and subsequent water damage.

With a flat or low-slope roof it is easier to do maintenance work on your roof, but take care to wear rubber-soled shoes to increase your traction. Pick off and discard large debris and branches, then use a broom to sweep up leaves, dirt, and other smaller debris. Pick off any debris collected around your drain cage, then remove the drain's cover and spray it clean with your hose.

Run water into the roof drains to make sure the water drains completely from the roof. If you discover a clog in the roof drain, use a pressure washer to spray the clog from the gutter, or use a drain snake to clear it away.

Last, trim back any tree branches hanging above your roof. These low-hanging branches are likely to cause damage to your roof during the winter and should be removed. Low-hanging branches weighted with snow can scrape your roofing materials.

Prevent Ice Dams

Ice dams can occur on a low-sloped or flat roof just as they can form on a sloped roof, so it is important to take steps to prevent them from occurring before it begins to snow. It can be difficult to keep your roof warm by adding extra ventilation below a flat roof or one with a low slope as these types of roofing do not have much, if any, attic space in which to do this. You can take action on the surface of your roof to prevent ice dam build-up from occurring.

First, add a waterproof barrier below your shingles or other roofing material on the bottom three to six feet up the roof from its edge. This type of barrier prevents ice and water from seeping beneath your roofing materials, roofing deck, and into your home. If you are ready to replace your roofing materials with new, this is the perfect opportunity to install this type of barrier if your roof does not already have it installed.

Next, install heating cables on the colder edge of your roof where ice tends to form and build an ice dam. You can have a professional roofer install these heating cables in a zig-zag pattern and connect them to an electrical source. Keep in mind you will need to switch the cables on and back off again during the winter to melt any ice build-up without causing the cables to burn out. The heating cables should be installed around drains, scuppers, and any downspouts as well so that the melted ice does not re-freeze and cause additional problems.

As a last resort you can use a roof rake to scrape snow from the bottom edge of your roof to help keep ice from forming. Make sure to only use a rake made of plastic and not metal so you don't damage your roofing materials.

Flat roofing poses its own problems when it comes to winter, so talk with a roofing professional if you have concerns.