A home with snow on the roof.

Prep Your Roof for Snow

Updated November 2, 2018 . AmFam Team

Winter storms and heavy snowfall make travel hectic, but they can even cause problems at home. Make sure your roof is prepared for the worst that winter brings and check out our expert tips for keeping it in tip-top shape.

As winter approaches, you might think of cozying up on the couch with a blanket or hunkering down with a cup of hot cocoa while the snow falls outside. And while you’re safe inside, your roof is working hard to protect you and everything you own from the elements. That’s why we’ve rounded up some tips to help you keep your roof in great shape while it does all the hard work this winter.

Preparing Your Roof for the Winter

Before the cold temperatures and snow even hint at showing up, get a good look at its current condition and fix any potential problems. Check out our tips for preparing your roof for winter weather.

Inspect your roof from the ground. Give your roof a good once-over to make sure it doesn’t show signs of aging or damage. Look for any missing, curled or lifted shingles, sagging near ridges or anything out of the ordinary. And unless you’re a professional roofer, don’t attempt to get on your roof.

Have your roof professionally inspected. If you dop notice any issues with your roof, call a professional and get an expert’s opinion on its current state and any necessary repairs. Having any issues fixed before a major snowfall is crucial to your roof’s health.

Check your gutters and downspouts, too. Making sure your gutters and downspouts are firmly attached to your home and aren’t filled with leaves or other foreign objects will set them up nicely for winter. Anything that prevents your roof from disposing of melting snow could eventually lead to ice or snow buildup on your roof, and a loose gutter or downspout will have a higher risk of detaching the longer it’s left untended to. Take a look at the best way to clean your gutters.

Make sure your attic is properly insulated. Having a properly- and evenly-insulated attic will help your roof get rid of melting snow as the weather warms up. Look for uneven snow melt on your roof after a storm — spots that melt easier than others can indicate areas where your home is losing more heat and costing you more money on your heating bill.

Preventing a Roof Collapse After a Snowstorm

When the snow finally does start falling, knowing how to spot potential trouble and take the appropriate steps can save you a lot of time, hassle and money when it comes to your roof. Check out these tips for getting the snow off of your roof and keeping it in good condition after a big storm.

Know what kind of snow is falling. Light and fluffy snow shouldn’t be much of an issue for your roof, but heavy, wet snow, or snow mixed with ice or sleet can be of concern. The heavier the snow (or ice), the more impact it’ll have on your roof. Take into consideration how much snow is falling, too. Don’t waste your time worrying after a couple early-season flurries.

Have a snow rake handy. A snow rake is exactly what it sounds like — a long-handled rake used to safely remove snow and/or ice from your roof. When using a snow rake, don’t try to get the entire roof free of snow. Instead, aim to remove the looser snow towards the bottom edge of the roof and leave a couple inches to naturally melt away when the weather gets warmer. Never use a snow rake while on a ladder. Only stand on solid ground and aim to keep the snow away from gutters and downspouts.

Don’t be afraid to call a professional. Snow removal and roofing companies alike often offer roof snow removal services. There’s nothing wrong with erring on the side of safety and having someone with experience clean off your roof — and although it’s more expensive than handling it yourself, it’s certainly safer and more efficient.

Be extra careful around ice. Falling ice, particularly from ice dams, is very dangerous. If there’s any ice on your roof, don’t attempt to remove it yourself. Call a professional or allow nature to take its course.

How to Spot Roof Damage After a Snowstorm

If you believe an ice- or snowstorm has caused damage to your roof, there are a number of ways you can try to confirm or deny your suspicions. Use these tips to get a good look at your roof’s condition after winter does its thing.

From the outside, look for obvious damage. While your roof might be covered in snow or ice, you can still see if a storm’s had impact. Look for any uneven snow cover, missing shingles or sagging in any part of the roof and call a professional immediately if damage is noticed.

Check doors and windows. If some doors and windows in your house seem more difficult to open than normal, part of your roof may have given way and be pushing down on the frames. If noticed, exit your home immediately and make arrangements to stay elsewhere until the damage can be assessed.

Don’t forget about your other structures. If you have other buildings on your property, such as a shed or detached garage, make sure to check their roofs, too. The less steep a roof, the easier it is for snow to collect and weigh down on it, making it more susceptible to collapse.

At American Family, your roof is covered under your homeowners insurance policy. But how your claim will be processed and paid out could depend on whether you have actual cash value (ACV) or replacement cost value (RCV) coverage. Get in touch with your American Family Insurance agent for specifics on your policy and get the exact coverage you and your family need this winter.

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