Even the strongest and most durable roofs take a beating in winter.
But roofing materials, including shingles, experience weather differently at different points in the year, whether humidity in summer or cold in winter.
Knowing what to expect, though, can help reduce the harm.
Understanding the Effects of Winter on Your Roof
Heavy snow, freezing rain and fierce winter winds can uproot shingles and cause leaks and other serious damage. These will ultimately necessitate expensive roofs repairs, including, possibly, replacement.
Let’s look at how winter can damage your roof and how to prevent it.
Snow on your roof is gradually melted by the heat emitted by your house and drains into the gutters. However, when snow accumulates well over your roof’s load-bearing capacity, it begins to seep under the shingles. This can lead to bowed ceilings, creaks, cracks above your windows and doors, and even roof collapse. This type of damage is more common with flat roofs or those with less pitch, where the snow can’t drain away or fall off easily.
Many homeowners attempt to shovel the snow. But instead of fixing the problem, this can do more damage.
Also, avoid using rock salt or calcium chloride to melt the snow, as this can severely damage roof tiles and void any warranty.
The best way to circumvent this kind of damage is to keep track of the amount of snow accumulating on your roof. Preventing snow accumulation also requires that you insulate and ventilate the attic, clean your gutters in the late fall, and apply liquid de-icer to your eaves.
In cases of excessive accumulation, you’re better off hiring a professional residential roofing company to remove snow and fix damage.
Freezing rainwater can cause serious roof damage. When runoff freezes to form ice dams at the roof’s edges, it can cause further accumulation of rain water. If that water gets under your shingles and into your home, it can damage electrical wiring and cause mould growth. In extreme circumstances it can lead to full roof collapse. Both slanted and flat roofs are susceptible to such damage.
We recommend an annual roof inspection to help identify any leakage point on your roof – like valleys, vents and chimneys – and have them repaired by a professional roofer.
Winter wind damage is common. Rickety and/or old roof shingles can be easily torn off, loosened further, or broken off. Storms also frequently tear off or loosen flashing, and are particularly harmful for your roof’s ridges and rakes, which are more exposed to the wind.
So, how do you avoid such damage?
Invest in quality, warranty-backed shingles that can take up to 110 mph winds instead of 3-tab 60-70 mph warranty ones.
Aside from reroofing, you can also hire a professional roofer to inspect it and fix any problems before winter arrives to aggravate the situation.
You may also want to consider hiring a tree trimmer to cut back any overhanging or dead branches a strong wind could tear away and slam against your roof.
Hail can dent metal roofs, flashing, and vents; create ridge caps; and leave small circular impressions on shingles. This gradually loosens them and shortens their lifespan.
Hail damage, sadly, is not preventable, unless you decide to opt for heavy-duty shingles.
Roofing contractors can check the extent and severity of the damage and decide if you’ll need to replace your roof. Find out if your homeowner’s insurance will cover the cost.
Cold weather puts even the best roofs to the test, but having a strong, professionally-installed roof is the best defence.
Tips to Prevent Damage
Winter damage to your roof can be effectively reduced with:
- Timely inspections
- Clean and unclogged gutters
- Proper insulation and ventilation
- Prompt removal of any snow build-up
If you want to protect your roof in the winter, you must acknowledge the importance of timely inspections and proper insulation/ventilation. Attic insulation needs to run up the walls and carry over the floor joists. With proper ventilation, you can balance out the temperature inside your home with the temperature outside.
Never use a shovel or any other sharp tool on your roof. Also, avoid using any chemicals to get rid of built-up snow. Instead, gently remove the snow using a roof rake or push broom. To avoid damaging the roof, be careful about how much force you use.
Hiring a local roofer to help you with snow removal and roofing maintenance is your best bet. Likewise, if you notice any cracks, leaks or other water damage, contact a roofing company right away. Any delay or negligence can be detrimental to your safety and that of other housemates. A professional roofing contractor can also provide you with long-term solutions to any and all winter-induced roofing damage.