During the cold winter months, your roof may be the last thing on your mind. From holiday preparations, snow removal, and hazardous driving conditions, you have enough to occupy your time as is. However, a neglected roof can develop serious damage.
If not properly cared for, your may find that your roof needs thousands of dollars of repair work come spring. To prevent problems and keep cash in your wallet, be on the look-out for ice dams, clogged gutters, and always ensure that snow is properly removed.
What Causes Winter Roof Damage
Improper Snow Removal
If an effort to save money, homeowners may be tempted to remove snow from their roofs themselves; unless you are seasoned on how to properly use a roof rake this could be a mistake. Every year, thousands of homeowners damage their roof or sustain injury in the process.
Snow shovels, rock salt and common snow removal tools shouldn’t be used on a roof. Additionally, perilously balancing yourself on an icy roof is an accident waiting to happen. Unless you know what you’re doing, it’s best to call a professional. Make sure to tell the professional about any skylights or other additions to your roof to prevent damage.
As water flows down your roof, it should enter your home gutter system. However, unlike your home, gutters don’t have heat; water can easily freeze and clog your gutters with ice. Besides creating too much strain from the extra weight, clogged gutters will cause leaks.
The best way to handle clogged gutters is to prevent them in the first place. Throughout the year, regularly check that your gutters are free of debris. Additionally, trimming trees that hang over your home can go a long way to prevent problems in the first place.
DIY Frozen Gutter Solutions
If your gutters do clog with ice, you should take steps to clear the blockage right away: remove excess snow and gently chip away at the ice until you can clear a path. If your gutter has an excess of ice, you may need warm water or a heat gun to remove the blockage. You could also try melting the ice with a water hose hooked up to the hot water valve in your wash room.
If your gutters regularly become clogged with ice, consider talking to a roofing contractor about additional options for prevention; specialized equipment can deliver heat to your gutters to prevent ice build up.
As heat escapes from your home, it will slowly melt the built up snow on your roof. In some conditions, this melted snow can freeze lower down on the roof and form an ice dam. Once created, the ice dam will prevent water from properly drain off your roof and cause leaks.
The warning signs of an ice dam are generally easy to spot: a pattern of uneven snow melt across your roof, water frozen on the side of your home, wet insulation in your attic, and big icicles.
Icicle Safety Tips
Be careful when dealing with icicles. If you need to work underneath the icicles, carefully knock them off when no person or animal is under them. Do not hesitate to call a pro to help since the dangers of injury can be high when dealing with icicles of all sizes.
If your home has signs of an ice dam, contact a professional right away. It will be necessary to properly remove the snow and ice to prevent further damage. Additionally, you might need to add insulation to prevent the ice dam from returning or if you are getting a roof replacement, ask a your roofer to install a water membrane under the shingles as an additional protective layer.