Nailing it Down — Use warm autumn to prepare house for cold winter

We’ve been talking so much lately about how a good paint job is a key to maintaining your home — and letting folks know what our great Paint the Corridor crews have been up to — that we haven’t mentioned the importance of a good roof for awhile.

This is the time to make sure your home is appropriately snug for the coming winter’s cold and wet. So, we’re going to walk you through what you might want to do between football games these next few weeks. Let’s start at the top!


If it’s a while since you’ve been up top at your house, choose a dry autumn afternoon to examine your roof.


Roofs should be checked every year if possible — or at least every couple of years. However, not all homeowners — and you may be one that fits in this category — really should be climbing around on their roofs.

If it’s not smart for you to be up there — even if you’ve done it in the past — consider calling a local handyman or roofer and explain that you just want some eyes and feet on the roof to see if there are any issues.

Be clear ahead of time what it will cost for them to take a look and what it will cost in time and materials if they find something that needs to be fixed.

If you think you have moss or other vegetation on your roof or have loose shingles or rot developing, it’ll be well worth your money to have it addressed now.

Moss, plants and scattered leaves are signs of needed maintenance. Vegetation will shorten a roof’s life substantially.


If you are able-bodied and sure-footed enough to be on your roof, you still need to take safety precautions. Obviously climbing on a roof includes some inherent risks. So before you go up consider:

• Fall protection, a ladder standoff is the first protection from a ladder sliding sideways down the gutter to the ground below.

• Killing moss or mildew and brightening the roof using bleach products works well but makes the roof slippery until well rinsed. Planning a safe way onto the ladder during this chore is essential to safety.

• Wearing rubber rain gear will protect your clothes.

• Covering the plants below with plastic will protect them from spotting.

After cleaning, you can prevent new moss from growing best using a Moss off product. Ask for assistance at your favorite lumberyard.


Gutters and downspouts convey the rain to the ground. They help prevent water damage to the windows, doors, siding and trim of your house. But they can’t do their job properly when they’re damaged, leaking, missing or blocked with leaves.

If you have trees hanging over your house, you may want to prune them back. Rollout leaf screens are cheap and effectively prevent clogging. But, they aren’t that great for keeping out needles. Clean out any debris in your gutters and plug any leaks you find with the proper gutter sealant.


Another essential component to examine will be your home’s flashings. Metal flashing is usually found at all edges of the roof or where the roof meets a wall, chimney or skylight. Flashing is vital to weatherproofing and usually lasts the life of the roofing.

If your home’s flashings are rusty or missing, but the roofing is still good, just replace the bad flash pieces. We suggest using factory-painted galvanized flashing material, available from your local lumber or roofing supply. If you are near salt water, stainless steel flashings may be required by code.

Also clean around each roof vent, chimney flash and where the gable walls meet the roof. The intent is to let the water flow quickly to the nearest gutter and nowhere else!


The trim boards at the ends of the roof, running from the eave to the peak, are called “varge” or “barge” boards. The trim boards at the bottom of the roof slope (behind the gutters) are called fascia boards.

Both the varge and fascia protect the roof’s ends and edges and separate the exposed roof framing components from direct exposure to rain or snow and contact with moist gutters.

Are any gutter nails sticking out or any wood fascia or varge hanging loose? A few more leaves or a quick, wet snow load could bring a loose gutter or rotted boards down onto your head. Now would be the time to fix them, even if it means calling in an expert.

When maintained, they should last the life of your house. However, take a look to make sure they’re still firmly in place and well painted.


Are you interested in buying a house? It’s a great time to do it. But first, do your homework and get educated before you talk to your favorite lender and realtor. They like an educated buyer because the home buying process can be shorter and the homeownership more successful. Go online at and get started today!

Dave Murnen and Pat Beaty are construction specialists at NeighborWorks of Grays Harbor County, where Murnen is the executive director. This is a non-profit organization committed to creating safe and affordable housing opportunities for all residents of Grays Harbor County.

Do you have questions about home repair, renting, remodeling or becoming a homeowner? Call us at 533-7828.