Winter snowfall can be exciting and beautiful, but the realities of winter for your roof are far less appealing. Find out the most common roofing issues that homeowners see during the winter and learn how to avoid them.
Usually, when we see condensation in your home, it is because the attic is not properly ventilated. Your roof and attic work as a system, and when your attic is not ventilated properly, it does not regulate temperature and can lead to serious issues. Moisture can build up and cause issues throughout the home, such as mold and mildew. Simply having vents across the roof does not ensure proper ventilation. Instead, your contractor should determine the square footage and amount of open area for air to pass through in your roof and attic to determine the volume and balance of intake and exhaust vents.
If you have noticed that some rooms in your home just aren’t comfortable no matter how much you play with the thermostat, or your energy bills are higher than usual, improper insulation in your attic could be the culprit. Your outer roof, ventilation, and insulation work as a system to regulate the temperature in your home. Sixty million homes in the United States are under-insulated, so measure your insulation or check with a contractor to see if your home is under insulated!
Flashing – the metal pieces used to direct water away from where roof elements intersect – does not have as long of a lifespan as the shingles on your roof. The flashing is usually sealed with caulk, which also degrades over time. During the winter, water can get into these cracks and expand, making an even larger gap for water to seep through. Check your flashing, or have a roof inspection, each fall to make sure that there are no places where water can seep through.
The winds in Maryland do not usually get high enough to rip shingles off the roof. However, if your roof is over 15 years old or ice has expanded underneath shingles loosening them, then winter winds could pose a problem. If you notice shingles on the ground after a winter storm, call a roofing professional that has experience in both small roof repair and full replacements. They will be able to tell you if you simply need to replace a few shingles, or if it is time for a total roof replacement.
When snow builds up, it can put weight on the structure of your roof. We don’t usually see this kind of heavy snowfall in Maryland, but the snow can still pose an issue. When even a light snowfall melts, it can pool on the roof, especially on a flat roof. Again, regular fall maintenance and roof inspections can keep your roof in good shape, so that water doesn’t have a chance to pool and penetrate the shingle layer.
While icicles add to a picturesque winter scene, they can actually be very dangerous if they fall on people or pets. Plus, they can pull your gutters away from the house. You can avoid icicles forming in the first place by performing regular maintenance of gutters and downspouts in the warmer months. But, once they develop, Icicles are relatively easy to knock down – carefully, of course – relieving the weight on your gutters and eliminating the threat to those passing under. However, icicles could be a sign of an even bigger problem, an ice dam.
Ice dams form when indoor heat rises through the ceiling, into the attic warming the roof and melting snow in patches, which flows down until it meets the part of the roof that is below freezing. That’s when it turns into a slab of ice that builds up along the eaves of your roof, trapping water above that can back up into the attic, put weight on your gutters, and loosen shingles. You can prevent ice dams with proper insulation, ventilation, and airflow.
While falling tree limbs are a concern during windy storms year-round, they pose an even bigger threat during an ice storm. The extra weight from the icy layer can make branches snap, or in the worst case, can bring down an entire tree. Trim any branches that come within six feet of your home and keep an eye out for trees that have any dead spots.
If you are experiencing any of these winter roofing issues, it is time to call a full-service remodeler who can handle all of your roofing needs.