This week’s early snowfall in South Dakota and Canada is a reminder that the rest of us should get ready for what the Farmers’ Almanac predicts will be a rough winter. One of the most vulnerable parts of your house is the roof, which can sustain damage from wind, snow, ice, heavy rains, and fallen trees. Failing to make needed repairs is one reason a roof can fall prey to the elements. Here are some things you should do before the snow flies as well as the best roofing materials from Consumer Reports’ tests.
“Many types of severe weather can put added stress on roofs, from high-speed winds ripping off shingles, heavy debris and ice getting caught in gutters, to the weight of excess snow,” said Jim Gustin, Senior Property Specialist, Risk Control at Travelers Insurance. “As we gear up for fall, there’s no better time to inspect roofs for damage, make any necessary repairs and clean the gutters to help prevent some of the most common causes of damage that occur.”
Travelers recommends taking the following steps to ensure your roof is in good condition and to prevent potential damage:
Trim trees and remove dead branches so they won’t damage your home if they fall because of wind, ice, or snow.
Clear gutters and downspouts of debris. As the leaves fall, make sure they aren’t building up in the gutters.
Check for any roof damage. Pay attention to surface bubbles and areas with missing gravel on flat roofs, or missing or damaged shingles or tiles on sloped roofs.
Add extra insulation in the attic to guard against ice dams. When too much heat escapes, it can melt the ice and snow on the roof. When it refreezes, it can cause an ice dam, causing water to back up into your home.
Check the flashing on the roof to make sure it’s in good condition to help prevent water penetration.
If your roof needs replacing, consider impact-resistant roofing materials, especially if you live in a hail-prone area.
The best roofing materials from our tests
In Consumer Reports’ roofing tests, we pull and pound shingles for months to simulate the high winds, temperature extremes, hail, and falling branches that a roof is subject to. And we expose them to ultraviolet light to simulate the fading effects of sunlight. Here are the winners from our tests.
Owens Corning Berkshire Collection, $225 per 100 square feet, and CertainTeed Grand Manor, $325, are tied at the top of the roofing Ratings. Both were excellent in our strength and impact tests although the Owens Corning was a bit better than CertainTeed on the weathering test in which the shingles are subject to water spray, heat, and ultraviolet light. Both brands also made our list of CR Best Buys including Owens Corning Oakridge, $68, and CertainTeed Landmark, $70. Both did very well on the strength, impact, and weathering tests.
Shingles from Tamko and Atlas also made our list of top roofing picks. Keep in mind that some installers may push certain brands. But given the wide differences in overall quality that we found, we suggest that you insist on the roofing you want, even if you have to pay extra for a special order or hire a different installer. For more choices see our full roofing Ratings and recommendations.
—Mary H.J. Farrell (@mhjfarrell on Twitter)
Consumer Reports has no relationship with any advertisers or sponsors on this website. Copyright © 2006-2014 Consumers Union of U.S.