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Protecting Your Roof from Winter Weather

Ice, Snow, and Your Roof!

In the pacific northwest, we don’t often experience heavy amount of ice and/or snow. Part of the problem with that is home manufacturers don’t feel the need to take the ice and snow into account when designing homes and roofs, and so when we do experience a winter storm, our homes are not ready and can suffer damage.

The average residential roof is built to withstand up to 20lbs per sq. ft. before giving way. As light and airy as a single snowflake is, when ice and snow compact they become heavier and heavier, increasing the weight and therefore the chance of roof failure. 1 cubic foot of DRY snow weighs 6-8 lbs, while 1 cubic foot of packed snow could weigh up to 20 lbs. If you add onto this a sheet of ice from freezing rain, and then new snowfall, it gets heavy quickly.

When the snow and ice being to melt, it turns into water that runs down your roof. If it melts fast, this means a high level of water running down your roof at the same time. When this happens, the roofing materials are not always able to divert it all and the water finds it’s way into your home. If the temperatures fluctuate around the freezing line, the snow and ice can melt just enough to collect at the gutters, where it refreezes. When ice dams in and around the gutters, it can cause a couple problems.

Icicles hanging on gutter eaves of roof in winter time

  1. The extra weight in the gutters can cause overflow, damaging the siding or can cause the gutter to pull away from the roof.
  2. Can create ice dams against the wood decking which can cause rotting and allow leakage.

    Obviously, there is only so much you can do about snow while it’s happening. The number one thing you can do is keep your roof in good health BEFORE the ice and snow hit. This includes:

  1. Keeping the moss off of the roof so that the shingles are not deteriorated.
  2. Replacing any worn or loose shingles on a regular basis.
  3. Repairing leaks as soon as they are discovered.

    By keeping your roof in good condition, it lessens the chance that the winter weather will cause extensive damage.

This is great you say, but what about during and after the winter storm? It’s too late to do preventative care, so now what? DON’T get on your own roof until you know it is no longer frozen. When the snow goes away, there can still be water in the shingles that freezes, making them extremely slick and dangerous. Remaining off the roof in frozen weather is highly recommended! A professional company has harnesses and ropes and a better knowledge of exactly when a roof is safe or not, trust them to walk on your winter roof!snow-on-roof

If you know of damage caused by the snow and ice, have it taken care of right away. Waiting until winter is over will only allow any other storms to increase the extent of the damage. Call Northwest Roof Maintenance and we can help you get it taken care of before Spring brings the heavy rain!

If you’ve experienced a storm and don’t know of any damage, but you want to be safe, have a roofing professional, like Northwest Roof Maintenance, inspect your roof. With their expertise, they will know what signs to look for that indicate damage and needed maintenance.

Give us a call and we can provide you with a free estimate for any needed work on your roof and we’ll help you get it taken care of in a timely manner!

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