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Clues in the Attic: The Secrets to Winter Roof Maintenance

Its a routine homeowners know theyre supposed to perform twice a year. But when one of those times for checking the health of their roof happens to coincide with the start of sharply colder weather if not worse surprises from Mother Nature well, who wants to be outside climbing a ladder for a birds-eye view?
Turns out that while even a quick roof-check is recommended, theres also a fallback position.
You could check your attic instead.
Roofs create an insulated barrier that helps trap heat inside, and most attic spaces are located right below them, explains Jason Joplin, program manager of the Center for the Advancement of Roofing Excellence, which is championed by GAF, North Americas largest roofing manufacturer. That makes them perfect for spotting potential problem areas and damage without worrying about falling.
Bearing in mind the crucial role roofs play in determining a houses energy efficiency yes, that means utility bills heres what to look for:
* Water leaks. As sure as we havent heard the last of NSA spying on Americans, it will soon storm. And when it does, shine a flashlight up in the attic in search of not just dripping water and condensation, but also water stains on the ceiling, walls and floor. All are signs that H20 is finding its way under your roofs shingles or behind its flashings.
* Animal damage. Refuge-seeking birds, bats, squirrels and raccoons can cause a world of havoc. Anything suspicious nests, droppings and gnawed wood, wires or insulation merits an immediate call to a pest professional.
* Ventilation. Think of the attic as the lungs of the house, says Joplin. It has to be able to breathe in order to function properly. Meaning, if your vents are stuffed with debris, they need to be cleared.
* Structure. Any hint of a sagging roof look up for this one could signal potential structural weakness requiring professional repair.
Whats that? You say you love the cold as much as you do the spring (the recommended time for a second annual roof check-up)? In that case, you can still inspect for structural deformities without risking your neck on a treacherous ladder by using binoculars to zoom in on everything from loose shingles to broken gutters.
And if prolonging your roofs life is truly your goal, experts say it pays to consult a professional roofing contractor whos insured and uses quality materials like GAFs Timberline American Harvest shingles. A free service that makes it easy to find a factory-certified contractor in your area can be found at www.gaf.com.
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