Better Preparation is Key to Preventing Roof Damage This Winter

With memories of Snowmageddon of 2010, Hurricane Irene and a tropical storm in 2011, the earthquake of 2011, the “Derecho” in summer 2012 and Hurricane Sandy, the DC area seems like a magnet for natural disasters. It didn’t used to be this way but maybe this is the new normal for us and this is not the last time we can expect this in the foreseeable future.

All these events bring the potential for major external and internal damage to our homes and many people are legitimately concerned that their roofs are not ready for the upcoming winter weather. Winter can be particularly troublesome for the state of our homes. Ice, snow and wind can bring all kinds of home and roof damage including leaky ceilings, flooded basements from gutter and spout overflow after a snow or ice melt, falling tree branches causing punctured roofs and broken skylights, wall caps and flashing blown off and other various and sundry roofing-related problems.

Many homeowners are on the phone to roofing contractors after these storms to report their problems and “get in the queue” for appointments to inspect and repair damage. But being prepared before the fact may be a better plan.

Preventive Care

As a local Capitol Hill roofing company, we have managed to secure some extraordinary roofing emergencies in the past storms, but we expect many more problems to arise. To be better prepared for this winter and the next major weather event here are some suggestions for homeowners:

  1. Make sure your gutters and spouts are unclogged to prevent water overflow and internal house damage.

  2. Have your flashing and wall caps (the top of walls that are shared with your neighbor) secured and all roof penetrations inspected.

  3. Make sure the mortar on your chimneys and exterior walls is in good shape so water can’t find a way to penetrate into your house.

  4. If you have a hatch or trapdoor access to your roof make sure it is secured against possible water access.

  5. Have your roof inspected by a professional roofing company and have problem areas repaired early. Melting ice and snow on roofs can cause major internal damage if the roof is not repaired before winter sets in.


  • If you have taken these precautions and water still finds a way into your house follow the suggestions below:

  • If you have water coming in the house through the ceiling you may want to make a small incision (or several) in the ceiling plaster/drywall to enable the water to drain which will reduce the amount of internal damage to your ceilings.

  • If water is coming in through windows, we suggest using duct tape attached directly to the frame or attach plastic bags to the glass and frame secured by the duct tape.

  • If water is coming in through the skylight and you can safely access the skylight from inside your house, the duct tape method might also be useful and you can also make incisions in the drywall near the skylight.

  • If water is overflowing your gutter and running down a wall into the house or windows, one of the above methods may be useful.

  • These storms and disasters serve as a reminder that we can limit the damage by planning ahead; a good way to save money and prevent nightmares!

Tom Daniel is owner and general manager of R. Thomas Daniel Roofing, a third-generation family business that has been doing business in Capitol Hill for more than 90 years. The company is the recommended roofer of Capitol Hill Village and can be reached at 202-569-1080 or or visit the website,

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