Roof damage can occur at any time of year, we know that, but winter weather can be especially harsh on a house’s roof and it’s almost never a good idea to simply wait for spring before addressing the issues that the presence of snow and ice on your roof can cause. In most cases, winter weather won’t cause new damage to your roof, however it can exacerbate existing—or even unknown—problems.
Here we list the most common forms of roof damage that can occur during these cold winter months.
1. Water Damage
Freezing rain can seriously damage your roof. This is particularly problematic if ice builds up in your gutter and prevents water from draining properly from your roof. Extensive water damage can also occur if your area experiences heavy rain and the accumulated water gets under your shingles and into your home. Even just a few inches of water can cause extensive interior home damage by affecting electrical wiring and causing mold to grow inside the home. Both slanted and flat roofs are susceptible to water damage. To prevent water from getting trapped in your roof, ensure that your roof is properly ventilated. If any minor holes or leaks exist, fix them immediately to prevent water from entering at those points.
2. Snow Damage
This is especially risky if your home’s roof is flat or designed in such a way that snow cannot easily fall down the sides. Snow may melt fairly quickly thanks to the heat emitting from your home; however, it can enter through cracks in your roof if there is more snow on your roof than your gutters can handle. If your roof is old, heavy snow could lead to structural damage, or even a complete cave-in. If you have damaged or missing shingles, or poor sealing around your chimney, flashing or skylights, melting snow can seep through and reveal potentially devastating leaks. To prevent snow damage to your roof after a particularly heavy snow, you may want to clear the snow using a roof rake.
3. Wind Damage
Wind damage during the winter is not uncommon. Strong winter winds can damage your roof by loosening your shingles and blowing them off your roof. If shingles or other pieces of your roof have been loosened or blown away by a storm, replace them immediately to preserve the integrity of your roof and avoid damage like trapped water or leaks. Also be sure to trim all tree limbs that are close to the roof, before they get heavy-laden with ice and snow and strong winds can bring them crashing down onto your roof.
4. Ice Dams and Icicles
Ice dams can result in one of the worst types of roof damage over the winter. If you’re seeing any of these on your home this winter, don’t ignore them! It’s important to note ice dams and large icicles are usually caused by poor insulation or ventilation.Snow and ice melt on your roof due to the internal heat from your house; however, this heat is not evenly distributed across your roof, and melting water that collects in cold areas freezes into a solid mass of ice. These dams can prevent melted water from running off your roof, causing it to pool on the roof, where it can cause leaks. Also the falling icicles can pull down gutters or other parts of your roof and hanging icicles can be extremely heavy, contributing to rotting. Knocking down the icicles yourself can cause just as much damage as letting them fall, so it’s best just to prevent them from forming by keeping your gutters clean.