The winter months tend to pose several roofing problems for property owners. Fortunately, you can manage these issues without breaking the bank if you know what to expect.
In this post, our team of expert roofers at Wegner Roofing & Solar discusses the five most common winter roofing problems you should anticipate and prevent.
1. Winter Storm Damage
Winter storms and blizzards bring freezing rain, snow, and powerful wind gusts. These weather conditions can cause substantial damage to roofs, especially those with installation issues or low-quality roofing materials. During freezing temperatures, certain types of shingles may become brittle and fracture, leaving your roof susceptible to leaks.
Wind gusts blowing up against your roof slopes can lift your shingles. Depending on the wind speed, the shingles may break and fall from your roof, leaving gaps. Additionally, when a high wind damages your gutter system, your foundation and siding are vulnerable to moisture damage.
Repairing winter storm damage as soon as possible will minimize moisture damage to your roof structure and interior. Schedule a roof inspection after every inclement weather event to ensure that openings or leaks in your roof don’t go unnoticed.
A proper roof installation with high-end materials remains your first defense against winter storm damage.
2. Snow Weight Damage
The build-up of snow and ice can significantly increase the load on your roof, putting the underlying structure under stress. If your roof is nearing the end of its functional lifespan, the decking and other structures can break under the weight, causing your roof to sag.
A roof that is up to code should withstand a snow load of up to 30 pounds per square foot of roof space. But how do you know how much the snow on your roof weighs?
Generally, 10 inches of fresh snow weighs five pounds per square foot. Once the fresh snow on your roof reaches a thickness of four to five feet, it is time to fetch the snow rake.
Old and packed snow is heavier, with three inches amounting to five pounds per square foot. Ideally, you should never allow packed snow to reach a thickness of two feet. Once the snow becomes too heavy for your roof, you will start to hear snapping and grumbling as your roof starts giving in to the weight.
Preventing snow load damage to your roof is generally straightforward. When you notice snow building up on your roof, use a snow rake with an extension pole to clear your entire roof. This tool lets you remove snow from your roof while standing safely on the ground.
When using a rake, leave a thin layer of snow so you don’t accidentally scrape, damage, or remove your shingles. Also, be mindful of any overhead electrical lines posing a shocking hazard, especially if you use a metal rake.
3. Flashing Damage
Roof flashing is metal strips that waterproof the areas most vulnerable to leaks on your roof. These areas include the valleys, perimeters, and seams around protrusions and structures, such as chimneys or skylights. Your roof flashing may have a copper, aluminum, or steel construction, with the latter option being the most popular.
In many cases, roof flashing has a longer life expectancy than the roof itself. Installers often leave the flashing during a roof replacement, provided it is in good shape. That said, scheduling a flashing inspection every year is crucial to protect your roof against leaks.
Going into the winter without a flashing inspection increases your risk of roof damage. Snowmelt may seep underneath loose flashing and refreeze, causing the metal strip to change shape. As a result, the roof flashing loses its waterproofing ability, causing your roof to leak.
4. Tree Limb Damage
Trees can cause extensive damage to your roofing materials, especially during a winter storm. A swaying tree limb that scrapes or smashes against your roof can break your shingles. The wind can also tear tree branches loose and send them flying against your roof.
When this happens, you will likely see the gaps in your roof where the shingles are missing or broken. The most effective way to prevent this type of roof damage is by trimming the trees surrounding your property.
5. Ice Dam Damage
Ice dam damage is another issue you should watch out for during winter.
When your home’s warm indoor air rises through the attic and heats the roof deck’s underside, the snow on top of your roof will melt. Then, the snowmelt runs down to the eave, where it refreezes. As this process repeats, ice builds up on your roof’s edge, forming an ice dam.
An ice dam is problematic because it traps water between the ice and the shingles. Eventually, this water will start seeping through your roof, forming a leak.
Property owners often worry that the ice hanging over the roof’s edge may damage the shingles and gutters. While this can happen, the real cause for concern is brown icicles forming between your fascias and soffits.
You may also notice icicles forming around soffit vents and water flowing from your soffits down your exterior walls. These issues are tell-tale signs that ice dams are causing large-scale damage to your roof structure, attic, and walls.
Sealing off attic air leaks from your home is the most effective way to prevent ice dam formation, attic condensation, or other moisture issues. These leaks are typically next to your home’s water heater, furnace vents, and chimney chases. Hot air can also leak through whole-house fan covers and melt the snow on your roof.
Before winter, schedule an inspection to ensure that your attic is fully insulated. Your attic should also have the correct type of insulation.
Need a Free Estimate?
At Wegner Roofing & Solar, we offer professional roof repair services for residential and commercial property owners. We can help prevent winter roof damage to your roof, giving you peace of mind that you won’t run into unnecessary and preventable repair costs. Please request a free estimate with us today.