When you dig out your extension ladder and some strings of Christmas lights to begin the annual process of hanging lights around your home, it's useful to take advantage of the opportunity to check the condition of your roof. Since you'll have the ladder against the roof and will be working along the edge of it, you can take some time to see if the roof needs to be replaced or repaired. You might be preoccupied with thinking about making your home cheerful for the holidays, but having a roof that doesn't dampen the festivities by dripping water into your home is a gift that keeps on giving. Here are some things to check on your roof.
As you stand on your ladder against the edge of the roof, you'll be able to check the condition of the nails that hold your shingles in place. You want to see that the head of each nail is firmly pressed against the shingle it's holding. If you see any nail heads that have risen visibly above the shingles, there's a problem. The nails are no longer holding the shingles firmly against the sheathing, which means that water could be flowing beneath the shingles.
Each of the shingles on your roof should have its original asphalt-like appearance. You can rub your hand over the shingles within reach to gauge their texture, but even a visual inspection can reveal how the shingles are on the surface. If you notice smooth spots on any of the shingles, it's a sign that the shingles are wearing out. The asphalt coating is necessary to keep the water out, so smooth spots on your shingles are a sign that they'll need to be replaced.
If the snow has yet to fall and you're clearly able to see all of your shingles while you're on the ladder, look for signs of moss growth on the shingles. This can be detrimental to the health of your roof because the moss stays moist much of the time and will trap water and hold it against the shingles. Mossy shingles won't necessarily need to be replaced, but they should be inspected by a licensed roofing contractor, like one from Swisher Handyman Services. In some cases, you may be able to trim some trees around your home to allow more sunlight to hit the roof. Given that moss growth is most prolific in shady areas, eliminating the shade on the roof can allow the moss to die off.