Winter Roofing Problems To Watch For

Don't let winter worries about your roof ruin your enjoyment of the first snowfall. Knowing the most common problems and how to prevent or correct them helps ensure you always have a warm roof over your head when cold weather strikes.

Problem #1: Ice Dams

In cold, wet climates, ice dams form along the eaves of the roof. Icicles along the edge of the roof or gutter are the most common signs of an ice dam, but sometimes a raised edge of ice forms with no icicles. Ice dams can:

  • Lift or tear off shingles.
  • Damage gutters along the eaves.
  • Result in leaks.

If you see ice dams forming, repress the urge to remove them by force. Breaking up the ice with a hammer just damages the roof. Instead, aim cold air from a fan at the underside of the roof from within the attic to freeze the ice solid so it doesn't leak, or scrape the ice off gently with a roof rake. The best option is to call a roofing contractor so they can safely remove the ice and fix or modify the shingles or gutters so ice dams don't form again.

Problem #2: Heavy Loads

Heavy snow can result in a roof collapse. Load ratings vary by regional codes. For example, roofs are constructed to hold at least 35 pounds of snow per square foot in the Twin Cities region of Minnesota. A better way to determine if the load is too heavy is to monitor your roof when it's holding a heavy load of snow.

Creaking, popping, sagging or leaking may mean a collapse is imminent and you should evacuate and call a professional. If you are worried about the load, use a roof rake to pull the snow down without damaging the shingles. Don't stand directly under the eaves when pulling down snow, and avoid pushing upward because this can lift the shingles. Usually, the snow slides off on its own if your roof is pitched. Never climb up on a roof to remove excess snow.

Problem #3: Leaks

Drip, drip, drip – there are few other noises that make you grab your wallet in fear. Leaks don't always drip, sometimes your only hint is a wet patch on the ceiling. Sometimes, you may not find a leak unless you venture into the attic and discover water damage or wet insulation. Most winter leaks appear after the snow begins to melt. Skylights and areas with flashing are more prone to leakage. Call a roofer at the first sign of a leak so you can get the damage repaired before it turns into a bigger problem.

Problem #4: Broken Shingles

Winter wind, ice damns, and improper snow removal can all result in broken shingles. Missing or broken shingles increase the chances of leaks when the next storm blows in, so survey your roof from the ground for any damage periodically throughout the winter. Don't walk on the roof, especially in freezing weather when shingles are brittle and more prone to damage.

Although roofing is usually thought of as a summer job, year-round roof repairs are available if trouble strikes in winter. Getting to the damage quickly can save you the cost of an entire new roof or stop further damage to the attic or home interior. To learn more, contact Masterpiece Roofing and Painting.