5 Winter Roof Damage Issues Every homeowner Needs to Know For 2021.

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It's here! The first major snowstorm of the winter. Covering most of Maryland and Pennsylvania with fresh white snow with most homeowners seeing over 5 inches just in the past few hours. And with this first storm we're experiencing all the winter elements at once; heavy snow, sleet, and high winds, all of which can wreak havoc on the exterior of your home especially your roof. So, if your plan is to simply wait for spring before addressing any issues that may arise from today's snow and ice on your roof you're going to have a bad spring. Save yourself the headache, take a look at five winter roof damage problems that homeowners need to be aware of and advice on how to best manage them.

1. Ice Dam Formation

One of the most common issues from heavy snowfall is when the warm air rises the heated living spaces in your home. The warm air reaches the top of your attic warming the shingles on your roof and starts melting the snow that covers it. This leads to snow dripping down, reaching the colder edges of the roof, and refreezing as ice. As the ice grows and begins to get thick, it acts as a dam, backing up further melted snow behind it. This results in water seeping under the shingles, and into your home through leakage points. Leaks are the result of backed-up water that freezes and thaws, working its way into nooks and crannies and expanding them.

To counter ice dams from forming on your home is by properly insulating and ventilating your attic. You can also reduce the risk of an ice dam by cleaning out your gutters and downspouts through-out the year and clearing away snow from your roof's edges. If you want to automate the process and make life easier, you can install heat trace cables in the gutters to keep melting snow flowing, thus preventing backups.

2. Icicles formation

With ice dams come icicles. And they may look beautiful dangling dangerously from your home's edge, they can cause damage shingles and crack gutters as well as having the potential to break and fall, severely damaging anything below it or worse someone. Commonly the result of roof-top air leaks, a simple fix is improving your attics insulation which will reduce the chance of icicles and ice dams forming on your home this winter.

But, if you do have icicles forming, carefully dislodge them with a long-handled roof rake or broom. Carefully climb up to the side of them with a ladder. Ensure the ladder is secure, use two people if possible.

3. Condensation in the Attic is a big NO!

If you notice that your home is experiencing the first two issues more and more each winter, there is a good possibility that, just below your roof, your attic ceiling will look like a glass of water on a hot summer day with excessive condensation. This moisture build-up is not something you want to put off. This issue can lead to wood rot and worse, mold. Again, ensuring your attic has the proper ventilation is the answer.

If you're having these issues, get up in your attic. It's crucial that you plug any leaks in the insulation on the attic floor where you see light gaps, allowing the moist air from below might enter. Don't see a lot of light streaks on the floor of your attic? Check your appliances, plumbing, and other devices that may cause excess moisture build-up if malfunctioning.

4. Snow Loads; What's too heavy?

Do you know your roof's weight limit? It's ok if you don't, most homeowners don't know. But, there are different types of roofs and they're all designed to handle different weight loads. If too much snow and ice accumulate on top of your house, there is a real risk of a collapse. Especially wet snow which can be 10x heavier.  Even large drifts of lighter snow can exert significant pressure. If your roof has poor drainage and/or was constructed improperly it can make the situation even worse, leading to an over-stressed roof that begins to creak, leak, and cause ceiling sagging. This is a serious situation, so you should not delay in calling in the professionals when you see or hear the tell-tale signs.

*1'' of snow weighs 0.26lbs /sqft. For example every 6.5'' of snowfall you’ve got the equivalent of the weight of a compact SUV on your roof.

*1" of wet snow weighs 1.66lbs /sqft. For example every 1" of heavy, wet snow on an average-sized roof, you’ve got the equivalent of one compact SUV parked up there.

5. Don't Make Existing Problems Worse

Not just causing new problems for your home, a heavy snow load and the freeze/thaw cycle can result in loosening already unsecured roof flashing, dislodge shaky shingles, and/or pry open gutter seams where caulk has already begun to break. This is why we suggest that homeowners have a yearly roof inspection and monthly maintenance done before the winter season begins.

These five problems can affect any homeowner's roof during the winter. Taking the time to care for your roof just before, during, and immediately following the harsh treatment it receives in the cold season will protect your investment in your home by preventing severe winter roof damage, thereby delaying the need for a new roof, minimizing roof repairs, and avoiding costly leaks.

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