Winter brings freezing temperatures, unpredictable weather, and the possibility that rain, ice, and snow might run rampant on your home’s exterior.
Your roof is especially susceptible to snow melt, water infiltration, and ice buildup. By taking regular care of your home’s soffit, however, you can help protect your roof from harsh winter weather and prevent future damage.
For homeowners and DIYers, these tips should be easy enough to perform yourself. You can also hire a professional contractor if you’re not sure about tackling these tips yourself.
Clean Your Gutters
Like many homeowners, your gutters can get clogged with leaves and debris left behind from fall. Add just one rainfall to the mix and you’ve got a disintegrating, moldy mess on your hands.
Before it gets too cold, take out the ladder and find your work gloves—clearing out your gutters is one of the first ways to help prevent any future ice buildup and potential damage.
When the temperature drops, these wet leaves will freeze. When that happens, snowmelt from your roof can’t drain properly. If that water leaks into the soffit area of your exterior, it can lead to water damage and further ice buildup.
Check Your Venting
Your home’s soffit keeps air moving through your roof cavity, effectively pulling moisture and dank air away from the insulation. In the winter, if these vents aren’t operating correctly, it can cause moisture to get trapped, condensate, and eventually freeze.
Most newer homes have soffit vents installed, but older homes might not have any ventilation in place. If you look under the eaves of your roof, you should see regularly placed vents under your eaves.
There are generally two types of soffit vents: continuous or individual. Continuous soffit vents come in long, narrow panels that run along the full length of the soffit. Individual vents (seen above) fit in between your soffit joists and can be installed fairly easily, but you’ll need to calculate the proper amount of ventilation needed. A good rule of thumb is to have at least one square foot of vent space for every 150 square feet of attic area. Ensuring these vents are kept clear and free from debris will help circulate air more efficiently.
Remove Heat Sources From Your Attic
The most common cause of ice damage, ice dams, and icicles is a warm attic.
Be sure to remove any mechanical equipment from your attic that might create additional heat while running. While it isn’t common practice, there is a possibility that heating equipment has been installed in your attic space. While this may send warm air through your home in the winter, it also radiates heat which keeps the attic at a higher temperature than the outside air. This could lead to the snow on your roof melting and refreezing.
When designing the heat center for your home, basements, garages, or utility rooms are the best place to put any equipment that might inadvertently heat the adjacent space.
Insulate Under Your Attic
Another way heat can enter your attic is through your home itself. Heat naturally rises, which means if you don’t insulate your attic, you’re running the risk of not only losing the heat inside your home but also ice building up on your roof.
The most common and effective form of attic insulation fiberglass insulation. Hire a professional to blow in fiberglass between your roof joists just above the ceiling drywall. Homeowners can also perform the task, but avoid the common mistake of blocking the flow of air at the eaves. Attic soffit vents should never be covered with insulation.
Don’t let ice wreak havoc on your roof, gutters and soffit systems this year! Take precautions to keep your attic cool and your soffits well vented. The first step is investigating to see where there are potential cracks in your home’s defense—then you can use some of these tips to help fill them.
Prepare your home further for inclement weather.
Download our Guide to Storm Season here!