Fall weather can be unpredictable: A bright, sunny start to the day can quickly be followed by rain and chilly winds in the afternoon. The constantly changing weather means wet leaves and damp areas that may not have enough time to dry before the next rainfall comes, or misty fog rolls in. Temperatures can drop rapidly at night, with frost in the morning. Meltwater from the ice is likely to cause ice dams. Start making your fall home safety preparations from the top of your home and work your way down.
Inspecting Your Roof
Using binoculars or a stable ladder, it’s recommended you perform inspections without actually stepping onto the roof itself. Not only would that be dangerous, you could also cause the roof damage to worsen. Some of the primary areas to inspect are:
- Roof Surface – Do you see loose, broken, cracked, or otherwise damaged roofing material? Have the materials replaced in the first few weeks of fall, before the more dramatic changes in weather, if possible.
- Flashing – Is your flashing still in good shape? Take a look at the flashing around your chimney, skylights, or roof vents. Many roof leaks are actually flashing leaks. Make sure they are free of cracks, breaks, and deterioration.
- Gutters – Are your gutters clear of leaves, branches, and other debris? Standing water caused by blocked drainage can overflow or find its way under your roof’s surface. Also, make sure that the downspouts are leading water away from your home’s foundation.
- Soffit and Fascia – The soffits and fascia keep out pests, facilitate ventilation, and prevent rain from blowing up onto your roof because of high winds. Look for signs of damage or mildew and mold that can weaken the material.
The turning of the leaves is one of the most beautiful things about fall — but you’ll appreciate less having clear those leaves off your lawn, roof, and gutters. Leaves can trap moisture and even create fertile ground for moss, algae and weeds to grow. Piles of leaves from trees that tower over a home usually pile up by the chimney or in roof valleys, and will need to be removed.
If you have a one-story house with a low-slope roof, clearing your roof may be done with a specialty roof leaf rake or a soft washing brush attached to a pole. A leaf blower should only be used from the top of the roof as the air may end up blowing the shingles or tiles loose. In most cases, when the leaves are too wet or too stuck, you will need the help of a professional roofer to get the job done.
Getting Rid of Moss
Unlike the unsightly yet harmless algae, moss on your roof needs to be removed because it traps water. Homes in the Northwest are likely to find moss growth on their roof, especially on wood or composition shingles. If you find them at an early enough stage, removal can just end with sweeping it off. However, if there has already been an accumulation of growth, killing off the moss first may be needed. Use products based on potassium salts of fatty acids. They are a much safer option for your roofing material compared to the more toxic zinc sulfate substances. Apply only on areas where the moss is growing. To prevent moss from coming back, you can get your roofer to install zinc strips that inhibit the moss growth.