Preparing A Roof For A Cold Winter: Preventing Ice Dams And Structural Damage

Posted on: 15 October 2015

Fall is the time to get your roof in fit and fighting shape for the winter. Snow and ice put a lot of stress on a roof, so you want your roof to go into the season in the best shape possible. With a little preparation, you can avoid or minimize common problems like ice dams – and even serious issues like cracked shingles or separated seams and flashing.

Clear Gutters And Downspouts

Clearing your gutters and downspouts before the snow starts to fall is a key part of preventing ice dams. If you go into winter with clogged gutters, water won't be able to drain off your roof properly – and that includes the freezing rain and melted snow that mark both the start and end of winter. This water can end up simply sitting on the surface of the roof or backing up into your attic or ceiling.

When temperatures hover around freezing, water that has pooled on the roof will freeze into ice, and you'll end up with ice dams on the roof. In addition, if water gets into damaged shingles or loose flashing, it will expand when it freezes, causing structural damage.

Check Attic Ventilation

The second key part of preventing ice dams is making sure that your attic is properly ventilated. You can check for signs of improper ventilation in the attic easily. Is your attic uncomfortably hotter than the rest of the house? Is it humid – or are there other signs of high moisture such as rust or mildew?

If you answered yes to any part of that, you should have a roofer, such as Marshall Roofing Ltd roof repair, check your ventilation and possibly add extra vents. An attic that doesn't allow for proper air flow will hold on to heat in the winter, and this pocket of hot air under the roof will cause the lowest level of snow to melt. Then, as air temperatures fall during the night or as the water on the roof runs off to a cooler area lower on the roof, it will refreeze into an ice dam.

Check For Leaks

If you've been putting off fixing leaks in your roof, you'll want to get the work done before winter comes. Once the roof is covered with snow, working on it will be difficult if not impossible. And those roof leaks are areas where water can infiltrate the structure of your home, freeze, and expand, causing damage.