How to Winterize Your Roof for the Ottawa Winter Season


Cold and wet winters are typical in Ottawa. That means that your roof is going to be battered with snow and rain and freezing temperatures. If there is even the slightest crack, you better bet that water is going to find its way in. With winter just around the corner and temperatures already dropping rapidly, it is time to begin preparing your roof for the winter season.

Doing the necessary steps now will give you one less thing to stress about during the holidays. Besides, no one wants a leaking roof over the winter holidays!

Here is how to winterize your roof for the Ottawa winter season:

Clean Your Gutters

Gutters—sometimes called eavestroughs—are a vital piece of a functioning roofing system. And just like anything vital, gutters need to be maintained.

If enough junk, like twigs and leaves, gets trapped, the gutters will clog. Autumn is one of the worst months for gutters, since leaves are constantly falling. Then, winter comes, and if you haven’t cleared those gutters, water could start pouring down the side of your house. Overflow could also damage the roof fascia. Or, that water could get trapped in the gutters, freeze, and end up pulling the gutters away from the building.

In short, do not ignore your gutters. They do a lot of work to protect your home, so at least ensure the eavestroughs are free and clear of any obstruction.

Trim Shrubs and Trees

Sure, trees and shrubs add to the curbside appeal of your home. Yet, when the trees and other plants start to go crazy and climb up to the rooftop or lean over the shingles, you could have a problem later on. You don’t have to remove the trees from around your house or pull up the shrubs and flowering bushes or ivy. All you need to do is trim back branches and ensure no vines are snaking onto the floor and gutters. This has an added advantage of reducing the amount of debris that collects on the roof.

Another reason you do not want branches hanging over the roof in the winter is snow. As ice and snow build up on the limbs of trees, the additional weight could cause the branches to snap, thereby impacting the roof. Branches may also scrape against the shingles, dislodging the precious granules or pulling the shingles up from the roof.

Also, trees provide a bridge for rodents and other pests to find their way onto your roof and into your attic or other parts around the house. Don’t give them that chance. Keep your trees trimmed.

Get Your Roof Inspected

Getting a professional assessment means assurance that your roof can withstand another winter. Apart from getting an inspection, you should also have the roof contractor inspect the framework before wintertime. This will help find any signs of sagging that will need to be fixed before the winter snow arrives.

Other common roofing issues that inspection finds are:

  • Granules from shingles collected in the gutters
  • Missing roofing materials, such as nails, shingles, and flashing
  • Rusted metal
  • Clogged drains
    Damaged ventilation
  • Pooling water
  • Damaged or cracked shingles or tiles
  • Sagging
  • Loose or broken roofing elements
  • Improperly installed flashing
  • and other issues

Anything that needs to be repaired or replaced can be done by a professional or by yourself. That depends on your skill and the tools required.

Check The Flashing Twice

Do you know what flashing is? It’s okay if you don’t. Most homeowners don’t know the answer or forget it exists, because flashing is not much to look at on the roof. But, if you didn’t have flashing, you would probably have experienced water leaks and damages by now.

Flashings are made of galvanized steel or aluminium and work as a protective layer for the most vulnerable elements on the roof, like seams. You will usually find flashing at edges and joints, like around chimneys or skylights.

Unfortunately, flashing is not always the most resilient of features on a roof. It can be damaged in high winds or corrode and loosen. When flashing is not flush against the roof, the felt or tar paper beneath is exposed, opening a way for moisture to seep down and cause trouble.

Replace Sealant

Does your roof have an antenna or a brick stack or something similar? Then you will need to inspect the sealant around these features. The sealer will be around the base, right where any flashing or shingles meet the edges or corners. Caulk and sealant both wear down over time, especially in environments that are cold and wet. If you notice that the sealant is cracked or worn down, it is time to replace it. Just make sure to do it before the air gets too cold. Otherwise, it will not dry properly.

Look Around Your Attic

If your home has an attic, you are going to have to enter it before winter arrives in Ottawa. Most homeowners overlook the attic when inspecting and preparing their homes for seasonal changes. Yet, the attic is necessary. You need to make sure the insulation is evenly distributed so that heat is not lost during the cold days. You also do not want your insulation to be faulty, because heat that gets trapped under the shingles could cause ice damming. Ice dams are when snow melts and freezes repeatedly on the roof, inevitably damaging the shingles.

Bottom Line

Don’t forget to give your roof some attention as the months get colder. Before the air turns bitter in Ottawa, you should have already had your roof inspected and made any necessary repairs. Commit to preparation, and you will be able to rest easier (and stay warmer) when the frigid temperatures of winter arrive.