Can Snow Damage My Roof?
Now that winter is fast approaching, many homeowners may wonder: Can snow damage my roof?
The truth is that any form of water can be harmful for roofs, but when the temperature drops below freezing, water and snow can especially be a problem.
Let's say you get a sleety rain when the temperature is hovering around 35 degrees F. When night falls, the temperature may dip to 28 degrees F. Water can get into the smallest crevices and then freeze. When it freezes, it expands. As it warms up, more water is present, making the cracks bigger. The more often this freeze-thaw happens, a great deal of moisture gets into the shingles causing them to expand and wear out. Leaks can cause water damage and potential wood rot to the wooden framing underneath.
Heavy snow can also present some unique problems. Snow accumulation on your roof causes a great deal of stress which can weaken the entire roof. Different roofs have different configurations, which can cause snow to accumulate in higher levels due to blowing and drifting. This can cause as much as five times the amount of snow in certain areas of the roof. Areas where the roof meets a solid wall, or places where there is a lower roof or awning, can cause a greater accumulation of snow.
How do homeowners know when there is too much snow for their roof to bear?
According to yellowpages.ca, it depends on your location. In heavy snow areas, roofs are made to bear heavier accumulations of snow. However, a general benchmark for residential roofs is 8 cm (20 lb.) per square foot. If the roof slope is greater than 8 cm (3 inches) for every 31 cm (12 inches) of horizontal distance, melting snow should run off adequately. However, remember that new snow falling on top of old, packed snow weighs more which may make yesterday's packed snow twice as heavy.
What is an ice dam?
Ice dams form when the accumulated ice and snow on the roof melts but then freezes all along the edges and eaves of the roof. This edge of ice keeps water from running off the roof which can cause water to find its way under the roof shingles and even into the house. Large ice dams have been known to tear the rain gutters and flashing off the roof.
What can a homeowner do to address these problems?
Investing in an inexpensive snow rake will help in snow removal from the roof. For ice dams, homeowners may be able to use a hammer and chisel to chip away at the ice to loosen it. Remember to take the proper precautions when climbing a ladder, especially in icy weather.
Keep a Good Record
Creating a tracking record of visual assessments and matching them with a baseline, possibly with photographs, will help homeowners keep track of the cumulative damage done by weather over a period of time. This benchmark will help keep track of any changes occurring.
Joye Roofing offers a free, professional roof inspection>. Once we complete our inspection checklist, we will give you an estimate on any work which may be needed. Joye Roofing Columbia has an "A" rating with the Better Business Bureau, and tons of rave reviews> from past customers.
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Derek Joye has been roofing homes and businesses in the Midlands for over 20 years.