Snow on Roof – Is it bad?
By fiderioandsons Jan 1, 2014
The New Year means a fresh start, and this year we are getting fresh snow with it. The things we saw looking out of our windows at the end of 2013 will be buried by 12 inches of snow by Friday. Even if you didn’t get to sleep before midnight, given the storm, you should get an early start to the new year and read our tips on how to protect your home and belongings from the coming snow storms.
Residential roofing styles vary by location for practical reasons. Most homes in Connecticut and other areas that are affected by snow have pitched (sloped) roofs to decrease the amount of snow buildup, but it is nearly impossible to prevent snow from accumulating during a storm of this magnitude.
Snow on the Roof
If there is an excessive amount of snow on your roof, it might need to be removed. There are two problems associated with snow buildup on roofs: the weight of the snow can cause structural damage, and water damage can occur as the snow melts. If your roof is old (over 10 years) you should definitely have snow removed to prevent your roof from collapsing.
Connecticut roofing and siding contractors have the tools and experience required to safely knock snow off. Climbing on slippery, pitched roofs is dangerous and we do not recommend that you attempt it yourself.
Melting snow runs down pitched roofs until it reaches the edge, where it should flow into your gutters and drain through your downspout. Roof edges are colder than the rest of the roof, though, so the melted snow might re-freeze. This can lead to the formation of attractive icicles, but don’t let their glistening appearance fool you. When snow melts and re-freezes (even in the form of icicles) it prevents the roof and gutter system from draining properly. If your gutters and filled with ice and your roof can’t drain, the only place water can drain is into your home. Check your attic and walls for water spots. If water is dripping inside your home, you can expect mold growth and structural damage down the road unless you take immediate action and hire professionals to dehumidify the areas affected by leaks. Ice-damming also damages roof shingles. One of the many special properties of water is that it expands as it freezes. If water seeps behind your roof shingles, it will exert an upward force on your roof shingles as it freezes. Dislodged shingles can no longer protect the underlying roofing materials. Insurers typically do cover roof repair that is caused by ice-damming.
Snow on your roof should melt from the top as the sun shines and warms things up. When you wake up, grab your jacket and take a look at the amount of snow on your roof compared to your neighbor’s roofs. The amount of snow on roofs indicates how well your attic is insulated. If there is a lot of snow on your roof in the morning, your attic is well-insulated. Usually, as daytime temperatures increase, snow melts from the top down. We are in for some some cold, cloudy days, though.
(image via google weather)
The temperature forecast for New Years Day is below freezing, and then it is going to get colder. The forecast predicts snow and temperatures in the low twenties for Thursday, even colder temperatures on Friday (looks like a high of 11 degress) and more snow. That means that you might have problems even if you have a perfectly designed roof pitch, a well-insulated attic, and conduct regular roof maintenance. Avoid paying for the cost of a new roof and call your Connecticut contractor to get that heavy snow off your roof.
If a substantial amount of snow on your roof has already melted by the time you wake up, you have an insulation problem, air leaks, or pooly insulated ducts/hot-water pipes. If you have a warm attic and poor insulation, your roof shingles (or other roofing materials) will gain heat from the inside of your home and melt the snow on your roof from the bottom up. The melted snow will run down pitched roofs, but since the edges of most roofs are colder, the melted snow often freezes and causes ice-damming. Then the melted snow will drip into your house. Check for water stains in the attic and call professionals to remedy the water damage before mold and rot occur.
Make sure that melting snow flows away from your foundation. The foundation of your home is porous, so if snow accumulates around the perimiter of your house, it will drip into the foundation as it melts. If the temperature drops, the liquid water will freeze and expand and crack your home’s foundation. Try to keep snow at least three feet away from your home. Make sure not to pile snow you are shoveling near your home. The other thing you can to do prevent basement flooding is make sure your gutters are clear of fall leaf debris.
Insurers generally cover storm-related roof repairs, but many insurers will reject claims for water damage unless you can prove regular roof maintenance. Water damage in the basement is not covered unless you have a separate flood insurance policy. Check our post on filing an insurance claim for more information. The cost of a new roof is higher than roof repair so insurers expect you to hire professionals to conduct regular roof inspections. For future reference, see our roof inspection checklist infographic. Call us for a roof repair cost estimate or a free consultation. It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Happy New Year from Fiderio & Sons!