Winter is typically a season that wrecks havoc on the roof and exterior of your home. As the weather finally breaks, it's a good idea to head outside and look for any damage that Old Man Winter may have caused. One area you definitely don't want to neglect is your roof. If you've never climbed on top of your roof before, the safest idea might be to hire a roofing contractor. But if you are feeling up to it, here are a few tips on what to look for on top of your house to make sure there is no significant fallout from the winter and to help ensure that your roof is restored and ready for the warm weather ahead.

Check for Splitting and Cracking, But Be Careful

The first obvious course of action is to check your shingles and make sure everything is still intact. But don't make any rookie mistakes while you're up there. Walk carefully and slowly from one end to the other. If a shingle is damaged underneath, you might not be able to tell until you step on it and it gives way. It's not a bad idea to take a cane or another similar object up to the roof with you to gently poke at your shingles before you decide to walk on them. Any damage should be reported to your home insurance company and to a local roofing contractor immediately.

Block Out Unwanted Guests

Depending on the layout of your roof, there may be a spot or two where small animals like birds or rodents can decide to make a home. Your gutter system is the first place to check for a still-hibernating guest. Also check at the top and around your chimney. If you have a satellite dish or other foreign object on your roof, check around any nooks and crannies for trouble.

Make Sure Water Flows Freely

After checking your gutters for unwanted guests, you should continue looking to make sure that any and all debris from the winter is removed. A huge mess of snow can put a lot of weight onto your gutters in the winter, and you want to make sure the system is still draining properly, including your downspouts. Gently pour a small amount of water into the gutter, and watch to make sure that it is flowing away from your roof and house in the proper fashion. Be sure to also check any overhangs or eaves for water stains from the previous winter's melted ice, and keep an eye out for mold. If issues are found, get professional help.

As summer arrives, it's important to make sure that your roof is ready to go for the new season. Walk your roof carefully to ensure that there are no damaged shingles from the winter storms. Seek out and block off any areas where unwanted animals could take up residence. Clean out your gutter and downspout system to ensure the summer rain can drain properly, and check for mold or other signs of water damage while you're up there as well. If this all sounds like too much work for you, contact a contractor who offers handyman services or a roofing company to do it for you.