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How Snow and Ice Impact Your Roof

Accumulated snow has the ability to quickly build up on roofs, especially if these surfaces are low and flat. Although you’ve probably seen countless paintings of winter scenes that include cozy, cottages covered in snow, let ice and snow build-up at the topmost portion of your home can be incredibly detrimental. Whether it melts and refreezes, or slowly thaws and travels down through the gutters, excess snow can cause a host of aesthetic and structural problems. In addition to applying extra weight that tests the durability of flashing, shingles, and other roofing components, snow can lead to ceiling rot and many other interior damages. It can overweight your gutters, and diminish the lifespan of important building features. Read on to discover how snow and ice affect your roof.

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While a single snowflake weighs virtually nothing, several inches of collected snow can put your roof under a tremendous amount of stress. In fact, if you have a flat roof and aren’t diligent about clearing this extra weight off, too much can actually cause some or all of the roof to collapse. Heavy snowstorms and equally heavy accumulations are virtually guaranteed to expedite roof wear. That’s why homeowners living in areas with long or severe winter seasons should always have their roofs professionally inspected at the first sign of spring. Catching damages early-on, and before the spring rains hit is one of the best things that consumers can do to prevent interior property damages, mold formation, and troublesome pest infestations.

When Snow Melts And Then Refreezes

A few inches of light, powdery snow isn’t going to cause much harm to a well-sloped roof. If this is what you’ve got on top of your home, you can gently knock this off with a roof rake at regular intervals. The real trouble starts when snow melts and then refreezes. Adding the additional weight of ice is often what causes flashing, substrate, and other roofing materials to fall off or break down. It’s also important to consider the way in which snowmelt refreezes. If sufficient melting occurs, the resulting water will run off the roof via its sloped sides to enter the gutters. Snowmelt that travels down the roof slope and then refreezes will result in the formation of ice dams, or short walls of ice that stop just ahead of the gutters. These dams take longer than soft, powdery snow to melt, and they’ll keep new snowmelt from reaching your gutters as long as they’re in place. This can lead to standing pools of water and a host of problems. Worse still, once they’re allowed to form, ice dams can’t be easily knocked off of roofs with simple roof rakes.

Melting snow that refreezes can also be incredibly problematic at the interior of gutters. If your gutters have any amount of wear, melted water can find its way into tiny cracks within these structures. When refreezing occurs, these cracks will expand as the water within them expands. This will cause existing cracks to become deeper and wider. It will also allow them to retain more water during the next melt and refreeze cycle. This same problem can also occur at roof shingles.

In the springtime, if you’ve let lots of snow accumulate on your roof and stay there, you may find yourself facing a problem known as roof blisters. These develop as the final snowmelt occurs, and as evaporating moisture and warm air become stuck between roof layers. The good news is that you can mitigate the roofing damages that are caused by any severe winter season. This is done by having snowy surfaces regularly cleared, and by having your roof inspected as soon as the temperatures warm. Routinely removing snow accumulations will limit the amount of stress and pressure that the roof and its individual components are subjected to. An early spring inspection will enable roofers to identify minor problems and correct them before they spiral out of control and before the rainy season arrives. If you want to take steps to keep your roof protected from wintertime damage, we can help. Call us now at 913-850-6556.