Roof damage is one of the most prevalent problems that happen during the winter season. It is not limited to spring storm season or summer/fall hurricane season; roof damage can be greatly impacted by the cold winter months. The accumulation of snow on a roof during heavy snowfall and the development of ice dams as a result are one of the most common causes for leakage and repairs of roofs during the winter snow season; fortunately, it is not a common problem faced by Houston roofing contractors!
Awareness of some common winter roofing problems might be of help in recognizing that such damage can occur so that immediate action can be taken. Comprehension of this potential hazard could also help prevent the problem from initially occurring and thereby helping alleviate the subsequent cost for necessary roof repairs.
Frequent Roof Inspections
The brutalizing effect of wind, snow and ice during the cold winter months can take a toll on any roof, which could lead to expensive roofing repairs. To avoid this damage and subsequent roof leakage, a careful inspection prior to the start of the winter season would be a smart place to begin. Check the roof to see if there are any visible signs of damage such as cracks or gaps which could lead to leakage during the winter months. Bi-annual or quarterly roof inspections will help avoid major roofing problems, especially any leakage.
How many people have heard of ice damming? Sounds like something that happens on a river, right? Actually, ice damming can and does occur on a roof during the winter season. It occurs when snow has accumulated on a roof; the warmer upper part of the roof melts some of that snow; the resulting water drains down the roof and re-freezes when it encounters the lower colder section of the roof, and keeps on building until a dam is formed. Unattended, all subsequent snow melting will gather against that dam and potentially soak through the outer covering and into the attic or top of the building.
Without knowing this, all that could be seen on a roof is mostly snow accumulation. Ice damming can be hard to detect if the snowfall is frequent enough to continually cover the increasing ice dam. This is a more common occurrence on any roof where the slope is lower rather than higher. A steep-peaked roof will be less likely to face this happening than one the low-pitched ones. One of the easiest ways to detect ice damming is the observation of icicles hanging from the eaves. The same condition that causes ice dams also causes icicles.
Solving the Problem
There are many ways to solve this problem. Once the dam has formed, physically going on the roof and trying to break up the ice dams is possible – but extremely dangerous to the person on the roof! Another way to avoid the problem is to get a wheeled roof rake and clear the first few feet of snow from the edge of the roof. Again, this is a possible solution but a little hazardous.
There are many other means of dealing with the problem and the internet is full of links to various websites that offer products to help. Roofing experts and professionals including Houston roofing contractors say that the best way to prevent this natural event is to have a proper attic ventilation system and adequate roofing insulation to prevent attic bypasses, which contribute to the development of ice dams.
Knowledge and awareness of the common winter roof problems can help prevent roof leakage and costly roof repairs. Frequent inspections, a good attic ventilation system, and adequate insulation are the best approaches to the common winter problem of ice damming. Following this advice will be much less costly than repairing the damage after it has happened!