Taking time to prepare your roof for the holidays will secure it against seasonal weather issues. Yes, we don’t need to worry about snow or hail here in Central Florida, but your roof still needs the occasional bit of help as temperature swings set in.
Paying attention to your roof is especially important if you plan to put up decorations for the holidays. But it also helps you get the drop on maintenance issues that can develop slowly over time and might go unnoticed. By taking action now, you ensure problems won’t continue to build up.
Whether you’re a dedicated do-it-yourselfer or you like to call the pros, there are some easy tasks you can do right now to safeguard your roof. The sooner you set aside some time to do them, the sooner you can start enjoying the holiday season with any decorating plans you can imagine!
As usual, though, safety comes first.
Safety Considerations When Preparing Your Roof For The Holidays
As a Central Florida roofer, we don’t normally advise that homeowners get up on the roof.
If you’re uncomfortable with heights, have any type of balance issue, or don’t have the right tools and equipment for the job on hand, a roofer will be glad to take care of seasonal roof maintenance for you. That said, it can be relatively safe to take care of it on your own if you follow sound precautions.
Let’s take a closer look:
1. Wear The Right Roofing Shoes For The Job
Make sure you have the right boots for the job. If you’re not certain, you can find these at your favorite retailer by searching for “roofing shoes.” Roofers wear work boots that are designed to protect them while minimizing the wear and tear that comes from moving around on the roof.
Unfortunately, if you wear the wrong shoes, you significantly increase your odds of falling.
Likewise, ordinary sneakers or even other types of boots can cause harm to your roof. This is even more noticeable with shingle roofing, where individual shingles can be cracked, scratched, or even unseated if you don’t move carefully. But sturdy metal roofs can be scratched or dented by the wrong footwear.
2. Be Extra Careful If Your Roof Is Steeply Pitched
The pitch of a roof refers to its angle. A church with a traditional steeple is an example of a roof with an extreme pitch. Many Florida homes also have a fairly high pitch, depending on the area, weather, and roofing materials. After all, a pitched roof is what kids think of when they draw a house!
The more pitched your roof is, the more it’s crucial to be cautious.
If the roof rises more than four feet for every 12 feet of horizontal span, it’s a good sign that you should call a roofer. Roofers working at this pitch use roof jacks, also known as roof brackets, to build scaffolding for easier maneuvering on the roof. In the toughest cases, a roof harness is used.
3. Do Your Roofing Work At The Right Time Of Day
In Florida, timing any roofing project right is central to making sure you stay safe.
This is still a key consideration even if you only expect to be up on the roof for a few minutes total. That’s because the air around the roof can be 20, 30, or even 50 degrees hotter than it is at ground level. A mild, pleasant day on the ground can turn into a real scorcher when you’re up on the roof.
With that in mind, clear off the right time of day to do the work at hand. Usually, this starts in the early morning hours between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. – when there’s plenty of light to see by, but peak heat is still hours away. It’s a good thing you will probably only need to spend a short time on the roof!
Around noon, reflectivity starts to make the roof more uncomfortable to work with even before the heat ramps up. The hours between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. are the worst times to be up on a roof on a clear day. Breezy, overcast weather can change the equation a little bit, but the basic facts stand.
The Best Ways To Prepare Your Roof For The Holidays In Florida
Now that you’re off to the right start, it’s time to take a closer look at what you should do to defend and strengthen your roof this winter. You’ll be more likely to avoid roof repairs when you go through these steps – late autumn and early winter give you the perfect opportunity.
1. Clean Debris From The Top Of Your Roof
Even if you don’t scour your roof thoroughly, it’s still valuable to get rid of any organic debris you notice. The cleaner your roof is, the more likely the animals that can damage the roof won’t linger there. If possible, try to schedule in a quick cleaning once every three months.
The precise method you should use to clean your roof varies based on the type of material and, in some cases, the age of the roof. If you’re not sure how you should go about it, a quick call to a neighborhood roofer will give you the information you need to get started.
2. Look Out For Telltale Signs of Roof Pests
Florida is the home of the roof rat, and some Central Florida homes are bound to see infestations from these tricky vermin every year. When you get up on the roof, you may have the misfortune of seeing one – they’re about six to eight inches long at maturity. If so, consult with an exterminator.
The characteristic sign of the roof rat is gnawing marks around the eaves or roof of your home. These are liable to be missed from ground level, even if you use a set of binoculars, but it’s much easier to spot them if you are on the roof. If you catch them, then roof rats likely have a presence in your attic, too.
This should be looked at as an emergency and taken care of before your decorating. Roof rats can gnaw through electrical wires and even fully jacketed electrical cables. The more sophisticated your holiday setup will be, the more likely it will be disrupted if you have any pests.
Another thing to watch out for is bird nests. Yes, birds don’t “infest” homes and they certainly aren’t pests, but they tend to set up their nests whenever and wherever they choose.
3. Clean Your Gutters Thoroughly
The gutters should be completely clean before you start hanging lights. Full gutters are hazardous, giving your light strings more places to get caught up and even potentially leading to fires. Of course, gutters also help ensure that your roof weathers rain more effectively.
The main purpose of your gutters is to make sure water leaving your roof during rain doesn’t drain directly into the foot of your building. If this goes on over a long enough period of time, it can sap your foundation – that leads to pricey repairs that may well exceed the cost of a Florida roof replacement.
You can de-gunk your gutters with virtually any kind of soft brush that won’t scratch the material. Be sure you’re wearing gloves, as burs and other sharp objects can get stuck in the gutter and might be concealed under impacted leaves and other moist materials.
While cleaning the gutter, also double-check to make sure it is properly seated. If your gutter pulls away from the roof or becomes bent, water begins to pool right at the damaged area, which defeats its purpose. A damaged gutter can sometimes be repaired, but it should be replaced if severe.
Notice tiny, glittering objects in the gutter? This is readily overlooked if you don’t know what it means, but it gives you a big clue about the health of your roof. These glittering shards are roofing granules, which give shingles greater reflective qualities. Rain can wash them away, and direct strikes to the surface of the shingle soften it and cause it to shed granules at an accelerated rate.
If you notice a substantial quantity of shingles, call a roofer. Even though your shingles are intact, they may be badly in need of replacement. Plus, losing granules means more solar radiation will be absorbed by your home, driving up the temperature and potentially making your air conditioner work harder.
4. Check Your Shingles For Signs Of Wear
Last but not least, you have the perfect vantage point to take a closer look at your roof shingles.
Sometimes, damage to roof shingles can be spotted without doing any climbing at all by using a pair of binoculars. But some cracks may not be obvious. Even smaller cracks indicate weak points that rain can infiltrate through, so these shingles should be replaced.
Pay extra attention to any shingles that are darker in coloration than those around them. They may have a soft, bruised texture. This indicates a hit from debris, and means the shingle is weak. Even if it is still seated, rainwater can pool underneath the shingle and ultimately inundate the underlayment.
Once this waterproof membrane is soaked, moisture can endanger the structural elements of the roof.
Hanging Your Christmas Lights And Other Holiday Decorations Safely
Hanging Christmas lights is fun and exciting. You get to see your project come to life one string of lights at a time. And nothing says “holiday cheer” like a well-designed light display. Kids love them, and they give so many Central Florida neighborhoods a unique character in this festive time of year.
Luckily, setting up your light show has actually gotten easier over the years rather than harder.
Today’s lights are far more durable than in previous generations. Outdoor lights are typically designed so if a single light goes out, it won’t affect the rest of the strand. And they are now positioned on more tangle-resistant wiring, so they are more intuitive to work with even if you’re on a ladder or stool.
As roofing pros, we get into this part of the holiday just as much as you do!
Here are our top roofing tips for hanging your Christmas light display:
1. Use Light Clips
The lights may be better than ever, but the biggest change in how holiday displays are done comes from these convenient light clips. These hanging clips are now sold at most home improvement stores across Florida. They make it a snap to hang lights on gutters, shingles, walkways, and windows.
Plus, your lights will hang more easily and you can ensure the display follows the shape you want.
With light clips, you won’t even need to use a hammer. That eliminates one of the biggest hazards for you and anyone around while you work! To get the right size of roof clips, know where you plan to hang your lights. If you’ll hang them from the gutter, measure their thickness so the clips are wide enough.
Once you’re clear on exactly where you want to hang your lights, use a tape measure on those surfaces to get the exact dimensions. This is much more accurate than going by the documented dimensions of your home. It will allow you to pick up exactly the length of lights you need.
Naturally, it also keeps you from accidentally going short with your lights and leaving “bald patches” that can take away from the effect. Measure with care, being sure the tape measure is taut before you record the final figures. Working as a team, you can get a family member to write them down for you.
3. Find Outlets
With the RV craze that’s swept Florida in recent decades, today’s newer homes generally have electrical outlets on the exterior. This solves one of the tougher dilemmas of setting up your display. But since the average home is more than 30 years old, many houses won’t have conveniently placed outlets.
When there are no outlets available, you’ll need to use outdoor-safe extension cords to provide power.
Design your display carefully before you start hanging, making sure to build safety into the plan. Any outdoor electrical connections, cables, or appliances should be shielded from the weather as much as possible. If rain is expected, you may need to shut down your display once it is time for bed.
4. Calculate Power
Today’s lights are more energy-efficient than those used in the past, but you will be drawing more power than you usually do. As complicated as it might seem, you can get a fairly good estimate of your total costs with a quick calculation. The formula for total wattage is not hard to remember:
The wattage of bulb X number of sockets = total wattage of one strand of lights
After you have the wattage, you’ll need to convert to amps to be sure you don’t overload your sockets. To find your amps, divide total watts by 120. Once you have both watts and amps, simply use the figures your utility gives you and the number of hours you plan to run your lights to figure out costs.
Remember, most home circuits operate on either 15 or 20-amp capacity.
A 15-amp circuit will support up to 1,800 watts. A 20-amp circuit supports up to 2,400 watts.
5. Have Fun!
Once the work is done, sit back and enjoy the fun. There are few things better than the look of joy in a child’s eyes when they see beautiful holiday light displays shining in the cool winter evening. Be sure to walk or drive around the neighborhood so you can appreciate the work others have done, too!
Notice Anything Unusual About Your Roof? Call Sheegog Contracting
Most of the time, it only takes a day or two to get your roof ready for winter.
If you notice anything out of the ordinary, though, there’s never a better time to call the roofing pros for a professional diagnosis. Winter is the slow season in roofing and you can get an appointment fast.
Contact us to find out more.