Winter is one of the toughest seasons on roofs in the Midwest. Snow, ice, and freezing temperatures can all lead to significant roof damage. Here are five ways ice and snow can impact your roof and steps you can take to avoid serious damage and costly repairs.
1. Ice Dams
When a roof warms up from heat escaping the attic, it causes snow to melt and sends water running down the roof. If the gutters are clogged with snow, ice or debris, this melting snow has nowhere to go and will refreeze once it gets to the edge of the roof, forming a pile of ice. Ice dams can tear off gutters, loosen shingles, and cause water to back up and enter the home. Adequate insulation, proper ventilation, and sealed air cracks help create a cool, consistent attic temperature which is key to preventing the formation of ice dams. Keeping gutters clear of debris is another important way to ensure that melting snow can easily drain off your roof and away from your home.
2. Freezing and Thawing
When snow and ice accumulate on your roof, water can begin to seep into even the smallest cracks and create serious problems. As the ice thaws and then refreezes, the crack is gradually widened. Over time, repeated cycles of freezing and thawing can speed up the damage to your roof, leading to serious water damage. To prevent this, have your roof inspected at least once a year. Regular roof inspections help locate small holes or cracks before they have a chance to become bigger issues during freezing winter temperatures.
3. Tree Damage
The extra weight from snow and ice has the potential to pull tree limbs down onto your roof, scraping and damaging the shingles. If a large limb breaks and lands on your roof, serious structural damage can occur. Trimming overhanging branches and removing any trees that pose a threat to your roof is important. It's best to hire a professional who’s trained to evaluate the health and safety of the trees on your property and handle any necessary trimming.
4. Carbon Monoxide Poisoning
If large amounts of snow and ice are allowed to build up on a roof, it can start to block chimneys and vents which can lead to a buildup of deadly carbon monoxide gas. The Chimney Safety Institute of America warns homeowners that under no circumstances should a fire be lit if the chimney is buried in snow. It's important to have a properly installed carbon monoxide detector to protect both people and pets.
5. Roof Collapse
Although rare with homes that have been built to code, unusually heavy amounts of snow and ice have the potential to overburden roofing structures and can lead to collapse. It’s important to remove heavy snowfall in order to protect your roof from serious damage. Snow shovels and snowmelt chemicals should not be used since they both have the potential to damage roofing materials. A telescopic roof rake is the safest way to remove snow from your roof. If you aren’t able to safely remove snow or ice buildup on your own, hiring a professional to handle the task is the best option.
How to Protect Your Roof
Your roof is your home’s first and most important defense against winter weather. Snow and ice buildup, along with the harsh cycle of freezing and thawing, can lead to serious roof damage. Luckily, there are things homeowners can do to reduce the risk. You should have your roof professionally inspected by an experienced roofing contractor before the winter season arrives each year. This allows for any necessary repairs to be completed before harsh winter weather hits.
In addition to a professional roof inspection, regular roof maintenance, including replacing worn or missing shingles, trimming back tree limbs, and keeping gutters and downspouts clear are inexpensive ways to protect your home’s roof from the damaging effects of snow and ice. With a few preventative measures, you can keep your roof in optimal condition even during the harsh winter months.
Work With a Trusted Local Roofing Company
Since 1999, Brian Dawson Roofing & Construction has been installing residential and commercial roofing systems throughout the greater St. Louis region. Because all of our work is done under warranty and fully insured, you’ll have peace of mind knowing your new roof is dependable and long-lasting.
Contact us online or at (636) 733-6435 to schedule a free inspection and consultation. Our experienced professionals will arrive on time, equipped with state-of-the-art equipment to detect leaks and other problems your roof may be facing. Our mission is to provide quality roofing services and top-notch customer service, all at a competitive price.