What Does Punxsutawney Phil Mean for Your Roof and Gutters?
Is winter running you to the ground? Every February 2nd, the nation turns to one of a myriad of large rodents to give sage wisdom about the emerging spring. Will it be sunny and warm, or will wind, snow, and ice dominate? According to Punxsutawney Phil, a groundhog who’s been giving weather predictions since 1887, the nation is in for 6 more weeks of winter this year. That’s right: Phil saw his shadow. What does this mean for your roof and gutters?
Is Phil Right? Will Winter Return for Another Show?
The groundhog celebration on February 2nd is based on an ancient winter festival. It’s easy to imagine that people long ago were also rather tired of winter by the time February came around and were eager to decide whether or not winter would continue. Should you trust the groundhog? It turns out that relying on rodent weather forecasters is not the most prudent plan when it comes to weather predictions. According to a highly scientific investigation by NOAA, “the table shows no predictive skill for the groundhog during the most recent years of this analysis.”
No matter whether you believe the groundhog or not, since February tends to be one of the coldest months of the year, it is possible that in any given February, you’ll encounter at least a few more weeks of winter weather before you move into spring. How can you get ready for home maintenance during the month of February?
Remember That Winter is Still a Possibility
The first item on the list: make sure that you remember that winter is still here. This time of the year, it’s easy to turn toward seed catalogs and wish wistfully for short and t-shirt weather. Stay vigilant. This means that you need to keep an eye on many aspects of your home maintenance:
- Keep the garden furniture indoors
- Plan your garden, but don’t move a lot of soil around. Meltwater is coming, and loose soil will erode easily.
- Keep your pipes protected for a few more weeks until it’s really spring.
- Spread snow around the garden as you shovel to help it melt more easily when spring comes. This will help your garden drainage.
- Check your roof and gutters for damage, and get ready to remedy problems in the spring.
Take a Close Look at Your Roof
During the winter months, your roof experiences high winds, debris that falls on the roof, snow load, and snow and ice damage. As the snow begins to melt, take a close look at your roof, both indoors and out. Look for signs that your roof has had a difficult winter:
- Damage in the spaces where the roof meets the gutter.
- Damage to areas where roofing meets other roof structures, such as the chimney.
- Pooling water where water did not pool before.
- Shingles that have lifted or cracked.
- Inside, look for leaks in the attic or ceiling.
- Touch the walls in the attic and any area that touches the roof, and look for signs of moisture.
While a potentially stormy February isn’t necessarily the best time to fix your roof, it is time to look for and remedy large-scale damage and to get prepared to engage in some springtime roof maintenance tasks.
Keeping Your Gutters Clear
One of the struggles of winter is the challenge of keeping your gutters flowing as snow falls, melts, and then freezes again. If your attic releases heat and warms your roof, the snow that falls on your roof will often thaw before freezing again, adding a layer of ice to your roof. In the area where your gutters meet the roof, this can lead to ice dams. Ice accumulates in the gutters, causing future meltwater to back up onto the roof. As that snow melts, it moves under shingles and can cause serious problems such as roof damage and roof leaks.
As the weather turns toward spring, take a look at how you can survive those weeks of winter next year. If you live in a place that experiences a lot of ice and snow, consider installing a gutter heating system. Gutter heaters turn all of that ice into water, moving it along your gutters and into downspouts without causing problems for your roof and gutters.
Get Your Gutters Ready for Spring
Step One: get the groundhogs out of your gutters. All right, groundhogs don’t live in gutters or trees, but other rodents and birds do. As the snow melts, get your gutters ready for spring by removing debris from your gutters. This debris clogs your gutters, leading to overflowing water that can damage your siding and your home foundation. If the leaves and sticks from winter storms stay in your gutters in February and March, they become nesting material for local animals, who start to see your gutters as the ideal place to build a new home. While you want to be friendly to wildlife, you don’t need to play host to birds, squirrels, and wasps in your gutters. Clean your gutters, hire a gutter cleaning company, or consider installing a gutter cover so that you won’t need to worry about debris accumulation next winter.
What Did the Snow Do To Your Gutters?
Whether it’s in six weeks or one week, spring is coming, and with it comes a hard look at the damage your gutters have experienced during the winter. In the winter months, branches hit your gutters and accumulating ice and snow weigh them down, causing them to warp and sag. As the water begins to drain from your roof and into your gutters, make sure that it can drain properly. Boost sagging gutters with brackets and repairs, or if your gutters have suffered serious damage, look at gutter replacement.
Examine Your Overall Garden Drainage
The drainage in your garden complements and assists your gutter drainage, particularly if gutter drains lead to downspouts that send water out into your garden. As you prepare for spring, take a look at those downspouts. Are they clogged with leaves, soil, snow, or ice? As the snow begins to melt, make sure that your drains can drain.
Examine the places where the water is going to go, and make sure that you maintain them in preparation for spring. Look for the following signs:
- Has garden soil shifted to change the way drain water and meltwater will move through the garden?
- Are other drainage areas such as French drains clogged by piles of snow?
- If there has been a lot of freeze and thaw action occurring during the winter months, is the soil eroded? Can prevent further erosion?
- Are rain gardens, swales, ponds, and other intentional water-holding areas clogged with snow or ready to receive the meltwater?
At Harry Helmet, we’re here to help you through winter storms and spring runoff. We know that whether Phil sees his shadow or celebrates an early spring, you’re going to need help renewing your roof and gutters this year. Contact us to learn more about roofing and gutter guards today.