Clearing ice dam off a roof

How Snow and Ice Can Damage Your Roof

There aren’t many prettier sights than an area covered in snow. While children may love playing in it oblivious to any risks, adults know the problems it can create. Traffic can be a nightmare, slips are increased and it also can put huge pressure on your home.

The formation of ice can cause a number of difficulties and even light fluffy snow can start to become very heavy after only a few inches. Here we look at the problems they cause, how to prevent them and how to deal with them.

Expanding ice

Anyone who has left a bottle of drink in the freezer will know the incredible power of ice. When water freezes it expands around 9%in size. It’ll always take the path of least resistance in that expansion but it can still cause a huge issue.

The problem can come when water seeps into cracks when the temperature is above freezing and then expands when it drops below. This can cause huge pressure on various parts of a roof and could begin to break roof tiles.

This is part of the reason the ice age carved out huge structures in the world. While the problems with your proof want be as epic as that, it can still cause you a huge headache. Ice can be a danger for many reasons.

This damaging process will be resisted with a new and well-installed roof. In colder areas, it’s a good idea to have regular inspections and also to replace any tiles or singles that might start to cause an issue. Fixing a small issue can prevent having an even bigger problem further down the line.

The weight of snow

There have been many roof collapses that can be attributed to the weight of snow pressing on a structure. While regular rainwater will drain off into your gutters, snow is more likely to stick there for longer periods.

One recent case of failure was the Metrodome sports stadium in Minneapolis. Snow collapsed the roof after 17 inches of snow fell in the city. Thankfully no-one was injured but it’s another example of the sheer power of snow.

This will be less of an issue depending on the angle of your roof. With a flat roof, the snow naturally has nowhere you go and therefore the snow builds. Steep roofs aren’t going to have quite the same problem but snow can still build on them.

The biggest issue this can cause is the complete structural failure of your roof. The weight gets too much and can force the roof to cave in. This would not only be extremely dangerous but also a hugely expensive problem to try and solve.

The other dangers

There are more subtle problems that can occur too. It’s likely that the heat from your home is going to partially melt a thin layer of snow. This water will most likely be trapped on the roof by an ice dam forming at the edges.

As the weight of the snow builds, it pushes this water at an increasing pressure into your roof. Water can then seep into the roof and leaks can then occur. This might not be noticeable at first as a big failure but it can seriously compromise the waterproofing.

Skylights are another area where problems can occur both with water pressing on the seals but also the fact a huge amount of condensation would quickly build up. Gutters should also be checked and cleaned too in order to prevent any build up.

Don’t let it build up

The obvious advice here is to not let any snow or ice buildup too much on your roof. Any more than a foot of snow you are in serious risk of problems occurring. This is especially important if you live in an area that is not used to snowfall, as it’s more likely your property hasn’t been built with that type of resistance in mind.

In colder areas, the properties are generally made to be better prepared for such pressures. You should never take anything for granted though as a continued buildup of snow will eventually affect all buildings.

Clearing your roof needs to be completed in a safe and secure manner but there are many tools out there to help with the job. If this proves to be too difficult then it might be the best idea to call a contractor to help you with the job.

Inspect your roof

If you’re anticipating a snowstorm then it’s a good idea to inspect your roof before it hits. This can be done personally or with the help of a roofing contractor. Snow and ice will make existing damage worse and therefore prevention can be vital.

If you suspect that any damage might have occurred then inspecting the roof after heavy snowfall would also be wise. Your roof is an area where a small problem can quickly become large ones and you want to be proactive in preventing any of the considerable damage that can be caused by snow and ice.