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As the leaves turn to their autumn hues, a homeowner’s mind will often turn to their winter preparation checklist. For maximum peace of mind as winter rolls in, be sure to include a roof inspection on that list.

Many home maintenance projects are so clearly seasonal that they’re hard to forget. All we need is a brief cold snap to remind us to service the furnace and chimney, remove window air conditioners, check our all-weather or snow tires and so on. But in northern climates (or wherever snow or hail is likely to fall) the roof will bear the brunt of winter weather and should be inspected by a roofing professional twice a year — in fall to clear debris and in spring to check for winter damage. 

Here are the five areas your contractor should check:

Gutters: Gutters have one job: efficiently moving water off the roof and away from the house. Anything that interferes with that process — leaves, debris, leaks, and so on — can cause water to back up into the roof system where it can cause expensive damage inside and out. 

Shingles: Finding and replacing damaged shingles before the snow flies can help avoid costly water issues down the road.

Vents: Vents are often sealed with neoprene or rubber, both of which can dry and crack with age. Both substances are also relatively soft, so they’re vulnerable to critters. Inspecting and repairing vent seals can help protect your home from water and unwanted pests.

Flashings: Flashing adds extra protection to the areas where two opposing roof surfaces meet, which are generally more vulnerable to leaks and water damage. Those areas include, but are not limited to, dormer walls, chimneys, skylights, and roof valleys, which tend to focus rain runoff. Inspecting and maintaining the seal on your flashing can help keep water from penetrating and becoming trapped inside the roof system.

Attic: Sometimes the problem isn’t the roof at all; it’s the attic. A proper inspection will identify issues with ventilation, plumbing, air conditioning, fans, or animal or bug infestation — all of which can contribute to mold, algae, or moisture problems.