Omaha winters are cold and windy. Tell you something you don’t know, right? Well, how about the fact that the wind and cold are putting your roof and, by extension, the structural integrity of your entire home at risk. High winds and cold temperatures like those we experience in Omaha can cause damage to your roof in various ways. If that damage isn’t addressed before winter weather sets in, your roof could be at risk for costly problems. Especially in this area of the country, preparing your roof for winter is an essential task. Our list will show you how.

Preparing Your Roof for Winter: Remove and Replace Shingles

If your roof is your home’s defense against the elements, your shingles are your roof’s defense. So, the first step to preparing your roof for winter is to make sure your shingles are doing their job. From a ladder, inspect your roof for missing or damaged shingles. Damage can be in the form of cracks, curling, or fraying edges. You’ll need to remove damaged shingles and replace them at the same time you’re replacing missing ones.

Missing and damaged shingles.

Missing and Damaged Shingles

As you inspect your roof, also keep an eye out for shingle granules, which look like coarse sand. If your shingles are shedding granules it’s a clear sign that they’re just plain worn out and it may be time to remove everything and re-shingle your entire roof.

Depending on your DIY skill level, it may be best to have a professional roofer install the new shingles, but removing the damaged ones is something anyone can accomplish on their own. Before you get down to business, consider an Omaha dumpster rental to get rid of the old shingles you’re removing. You can’t leave a roof’s worth of them out at your curb on garbage night. And despite appearances, shingles are heavy, so tossing them onto your lawn and then trying to round them up after the fact would be back-breaking work.

Removing old shingles

Preparing Your Roof for Winter: Guard Against Wind Damage

Because Omaha winters are so windy, you’ll also want to pay special attention to the edges of your roof for signs of wind damage. Look for loosened shingles or ones whose edges seem to be pulling away from the roof. If you find these outward signs of damage, go up into your attic or crawlspace and inspect your roof’s sheathing (the layer of wood your shingles are nailed into). You want to be sure that your sheathing was nailed firmly into your rafters. If the original contractors seem to have nailed too shallowly, or worse, missed the rafters entirely, you can re-nail the sheathing yourself.

Shingles showing wind damage.

Shingles loosened by wind damage.

While you’re up there, also look for any signs of swelling, warping, or peeling in your sheathing. This is a sign of water damage, and you’ll need to install moisture barriers to combat it. If this damage is extensive, it’s probably best to call in a contractor replace your sheathing.

If your roof shows signs of wind damage, especially if you live in a particularly windy area, you should also have a contractor inspect your gables to ensure that they’re in good repair and are the correct type for your roof style and location.

The major concern with wind damage is that, over time, your roof’s integrity will become so compromised that a high wind can rip it right off of your house. Preventing wind damage should be a priority for any Omaha homeowner prepping for winter.

Wind damaged roof torn off a home.

Preparing Your Roof for Winter: Repair Damaged Flashing

When preparing your roof for winter, it’s not just wind you need to worry about. Melting ice and snow can also cause issues. Flashing is the metal protective barrier around any chimneys, vents, and skylights on your roof, and damaged flashing is one of the leading causes of roof leaks. In the winter, it can lead to even greater damage if the water working its way under the barrier freezes. While you’re on the lookout for missing or damaged shingles, also inspect your flashing for cracks or warping.

You can repair damaged flashing yourself, but if the damage is severe or extensive, it might be best to call in a professional.

Damaged Flashing

Preparing Your Roof for Winter: Clean Your Gutters

Don’t get us wrong, you should keep your gutters clean year round to ensure that water is kept safely away from your foundation, but clean gutters are particularly important in the winter. With the weight of snow and ice on top of the weight of any debris, your gutters may begin to pull away from the roof. This leaves the wood beneath exposed to the elements and at a high risk of rotting. It takes only a little pulling to leave your roof exposed and the process can happen very slowly, making it difficult to spot. Head winter off at the pass and clean your gutters out thoroughly before snowy weather sets in.

Clean your gutters while preparing your roof for winter.

Preparing Your Roof for Winter: Ensure Proper Ventilation

Without proper ventilation, especially if you have an attic, you could be looking not only at leaks and damage to your roof but higher energy bills this winter. Why? When snow accumulates on your roof, it needs to be able to melt and drain naturally as the weather warms up. But when your roof isn’t properly ventilated, built up heat will frequently cause melt-and-freeze sequences that can wear out your shingles and cause ice dams—which in turn can cause leaks and other damage to your roof. It works like this:

  • Heat from an improperly ventilated roof begins to melt the snow in certain areas.
  • The melting snow slides down the roof.
  • Because the weather is still too cold for a true melt, the melt water freezes into ice as it reaches colder areas of the roof, usually at the eaves.
  • As this cycle continues, an ice dam forms at the eaves which prevents new snow and melt water from draining off the roof properly.
  • This can cause leaks and, in severe cases, even structural damage to your roof, as the water, with nowhere else to go, is forced under roofing materials.

Ice Dam

As you’re preparing your roof for winter this year, you can make a DIY fix for this issue by adding additional insulation to your attic or crawlspace. However, a better option is to hire a weatherization contractor or energy auditor to inspect your roof and make any necessary improvements to your ventilation or insulation. Not only will this protect your roof and your home’s structural integrity, it will save you BIG on energy costs over the course of this, and many other, Omaha winters. As an added bonus, you might even be eligible for an energy efficient tax credit.

Do an energy audit while preparing your roof for winter.

An energy audit can net you major savings year round–and for years to come.

Preparing your roof for winter can be a big job, but it’s one every Omaha homeowner should tackle sooner rather than later. Trust us, any repairs or updates you end up having to pay for now are far less expensive than the much bigger repairs you’ll face down the road, when roof leaks rot your home’s supports or wind damage deposits your entire roof in your neighbor’s yard. Plus, you’ll likely end up saving money in the long run by increasing your home’s energy efficiency! “Winter is coming” isn’t so scary when you’re looking at it from under the eaves of a roof sturdy enough to stand up to it.

We’re here to help with easy dumpster rentals while you work on your roof. Ever experienced problems due to roof damage? Comment with your horror story!