Winter Roofing Problems And Solutions

If you live in an area where freezing temperatures, snow, or ice can occur, you’re probably no stranger to the hassles of winter weather. Winter weather conditions affect every aspect of our lives in some way or another, and unfortunately, there is no exception when it comes to roofing concerns. The following article is a a breakdown of some of the most common problems homeowners face in winter, and what you can do about them.

Problem #1: Heavy Snow

When snow begins to accumulate on your roof, it’s important to take action. Snow and ice can add extra weight to your roof that’s greater than your roof was designed for. If that extra weight remains in place for too long, your roof may become damaged and allow water to seep in. Many people choose to purchase a roof rake – which is exactly what it sounds like. From your position on the ground, you can use the long pole with a flat end to scrape the snow off your roof. The more snow (and the more roof) you have, the more physically demanding the task will be, but it’s ideal for the homeowner who is up for it and wants to save money. Another popular option is to have de-icing cables installed which will melt the snow and ice automatically.

Problem #2: Flashing Leaks

Flashing is the most common location for a roof leak to occur. High winds, ice, and other harsh weather can cause the flashing to pull free or be blown away, leaving your roof structure exposed to the elements and allowing water to enter your home. Be sure to have a thorough inspection done before winter and replace an damaged or missing flashing to avoid a problem once winter arrives.

Problem #3: Ice Dams

When the temperature at the uppermost portion of your roof is above freezing, and the lower portions are below freezing, water will melt and run down the roof, re-freezing at the roof’s edge and gutters, creating what’s known as an ice dam. This water can freeze under the shingles as well, creating the potential for even more damage. As the warmer water pools up behind the ice dam, it can enter your home and cause water damage. To lessen the chances of having an ice dam, be sure your roof is properly ventilated, insulated, and frequently cleared after snow falls.

Problem #4: Icicles

Icicles go hand in hand with ice dams, since they are both caused by the same conditions. Clogged gutters and downspouts or ice dams provide a perfect place for thawing water to re-freeze. The added weight can cause damage to gutters and be a hazard to people and animals. Keep your roof as clear as possible, and ensure there is no debris like leaves or twigs in the gutters. Remove icicles if possible. De-icing cables can also help to prevent this issue.

Remember it is always best to consult a professional if you have an emergency situation or need help determining how to handle an issue.


What To Do When Your Roof Leaks

A leaking roof is something every homeowner dreads, and for good reason. While a small leak at some point in the home’s lifetime is to be expected as par for the course, they key factor is in how you handle the leak. It’s not just an inconvenience – if left unattended to, it can cause serious and substantial damage, or perhaps even cause injury to the structure’s inhabitants. The longer the problem is ignored, the more expansive the damage can become, potentially leading into a financial nightmare. Water rings may begin to appear on the ceiling, causing the paint to become discolored, or the plaster to warp and bubble. Additional damage may be done to adjacent walls. Furniture may be ruined. Insulation can be destroyed, causing inefficient heating and cooling resulting in higher energy bills, and even structural damage to the rafters, ceiling joists, wall framing, fascia boards and exterior trim may occur in extreme circumstances. Light fixtures and fans may become damaged, presenting a fire hazard , and mold (particularly black mold) and mildew can grow, leading to serious health concerns.

So, what should you do if you have discovered a leak? Well, the first step is in determining the cause of the leak, and this can be a tricky process. Often, the homeowner may assume the source of the leak is directly above the visible water source. Sadly, this is often not the case. The water may be running down the interior structures, or even be caused by condensation. In many cases, plumbing or air conditioning issues are the cause rather than a roof leak. You’ll need to do some sleuthing here to find the real source of the problem.

First, try to catch the leak in action – while it is raining or snowing. This is the most effective way to trace the water to it’s source, and far more reliable than tracing the stains themselves. If it’s not reasonable to wait for the weather to comply, you may choose to use a garden hose on the area you believe to be affected to confirm that the water enters the home from that location. The most common sources of a leaking roof are as follows:

  • Missing, damaged, or loose shingles, tiles or seams
  • Improper attic ventilation causing a buildup of condensation
  • Ice Dams preventing proper run off and forcing water to back up under shingles
  • Ponding water
  • Exposed nail heads
  • Skylight flashings
  • Wall step flashings
  • Plumbing vent flashings
  • Furnace or B-vent flashings
  • Wind driven rain
  • Built up debris
  • Chimneys

Rule out other causes, such as plumbing leaks, a/c leaks, condensation, or even pest infestation, to avoid unnecessary expense, then consult a professional. In some cases, you may need to make an emergency repair until the roofer is able to remedy the problem. Remove any items that may be further damaged, such as furniture, clothing, or other personal items during the interim.

While you can’t prevent all issues all the time, the best approach to caring for your roof is to have regular inspections performed by a qualified roofer, especially after a severe weather event such as a hail storm, heavy winds, or lightning. Be sure to keep gutters clear at all times, and remove branches that may damage your roof. With diligent maintenance and care, you can expect your roof to last a significant amount of time.



Certified Roofing Contractors License Number: CCC054806

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