You never can tell the extremities our roofs go for in offering us protection from the elements. In the winter, the mix of freshly fallen snow with the melting and refreezing of snow can place stress on the roof of your home. Snows and ice storms take their toll overtime on the roof, irrespective of the roofing type or material. Snow and ice accumulation weighs on the roof and can lead to damage to the roofing materials and have a direct effect on the condition and structure of your roof.
It is always needful to remove any accumulated snow and ice on the roof once it gets to more than afoot. If not done, heavy accumulation of these ice and snows can result in the roof collapse. However, taking proactive measures to protect your roof from ice and snow can save you a lot of money, effort, and energy. Here’s all you have to know about your roof and winter and how best to get set for it.
Effects Of Snow And Ice On Your Roof
- Ice Dams
An ice dam is a row of spear-shaped ice or a wall of ice, which forms at the edge of the roof, right at the gutters and overhang. The ice dams are heavy and have sharp edges, making them more dangerous. It can cause a serious degree of injury to anyone it falls on. Ice dams form when the snow drips from a slanted roof and then freezes. The melted snow flows down the roof, under the snow, and then onto the eaves and into the gutters. The overhang and gutters are much colder; once the melted snow reaches there, the water quickly turns into ice all along the overhang.
What Causes Ice Dams?
One notable cause of ice dams is poor attic insulation and poor attic and roof ventilation — improper attic insulation results in a significant amount of heat leaving your home through the attic and roof. The heat makes the snow melt at a fast rate and causes them to flow down to the overhang.
How to Prevent Ice Dams
- Prior to winter, ensure that you have proper levels of roof insulation and enough vents installed. You should also check that the attic insulation is not blocking the roof ventilation. Proper levels of insulation are the best defense.
- Seal air leaks in your attic, so as to prevent warm air leakage.
- Clean out your gutters before winter to remove any leaves or debris.
Dealing With Ice Dams
- Never go up on an icy or snowy roof, even with a ladder.
- Do not attempt to remove them unless you have experience. You could seriously injure yourself if you are not skilled at removing them.
- With the help of a roof rake, remove large amounts of snow or get a professional roofer to remove the snow for you. The safest way to remove the snow is to pull the snow down the slope of the roof-line. Do not pull snow across the roof as it could break off the shingles.
- Consider chipping away at some of the ice buildups in the gutters.
Other ways that ice and snow can impact your roof include:
- Freeze and Thaw
As snows and ice accumulate on the roof, it gets to a point it will begin to melt. The water runs off and will likely stumble on cracks on the roof. The water will seep through even the tiniest cracks (most likely to be found around panel seams, flashing, joints, and curbs), posing a major issue for your roof. The little cracks will create a medium for water to run through your roofing membrane. The most disturbing part is that once the temperature drops below freezing, this water becomes ice and expands in the process, making these cracks to be more prominent and compromising the integrity of the roof. With each freezing and thawing of the ice, the cracks expand much more, causing more damage to the shingles.
- Extra Snow Loads
The weight of snow or ice plays a role in ascertaining the roof’s strength. When snow becomes saturated, it weighs up to 20 pounds per cubic foot. A blizzard brings an extra one cubic foot of snow, which typically weighs about 14,000 pounds. After a snowstorm, a 10,000-square-foot warehouse that drops six inches of snow may be bearing slightly over 50 tons of snow. Also, with the water content of snow ranging from 3% for very dry snow to 33% for wet, heavy snow, to nearly 100% for ice; accumulation of multiple snowfalls in cold climates before temperatures can rise enough to melt snow could pose more than enough threat to the roofing structure. As most roofs are designed to carry 20 pounds per horizontal square, the extra weight from ice accumulation puts tremendous strain on a roof, results to damage in the load-bearing components of the roof and most times, it is climaxed by total collapse of the roof structure, which can result in serious injury and costly damages.
- Weakened or stressed roof
The heavyweight of the snows or ice on the roof also causes stress to the roof. During winter, the runoff water from thawed ice freezes once the temperature drops below freezing. This forms large ice blocks with greater weight, thus, adding more stress to the roof and posing the risk of a total collapse of the roofing structure. Although, it is not quite easy to detect that your roof is stressed out, albeit, a closer observation inside the home could be an indicator. The pulling away of tiles from the ceiling and roof leaks should set the alarm. It will be a clever thing on your part to contact a structural engineer to conduct an assessment.
Moreover, the snows and ice that constantly accost the roof can lead to deterioration of the roofing material over time. It can broaden the cracks in seams and joints, bend and buckle flashing, and aggravate other ill conditions like depressions in the surface and membrane cracks.
- Water Damage
When the accumulated snow and ice melts, water seeps into the roof between the shingles. This can cause rot on your roof and damage to your gutters. Also, it can potentially damage the interior of your attic. Not just that, extra moisture also provides a breeding ground for mold and mildew in walls, ceilings, and insulation.
How To Protect The Roof From Snow And Ice
- Regular roofing inspections
- Cleaning of gutters
- Replacing worn shingles prior to winter
- Knowledge of your roof’s weight limits
- Using a roof coating system
- Using safe de-icing and melting materials
Contact a well-trained roofing contractor to handle all your roofing needs today at Exterior Home Solutions (360) 448-5925