Winter is a harsh season - and not just for people. There is beauty to it, of course, and seeing snow on all the roofs can ignite a feeling of wonder and nostalgia - until, at least, it causes problems.
We’re going to go over the 5 most common ways winter weather can damage your roof - that way, you can prepare for the worst and hope for the best.
Snow and ice on your roof
Well-built roofs are designed to withstand the weight and pressure of snow and ice. There’s a reason most roofs in northern climes are sloped - it helps distribute that weight throughout the structure.
With a brand new roof, weight from snow and ice are unlikely to cause any damage - though in a blizzard, anything can happen. It’s older roofs, or roofs that haven’t been particularly well cared for (or well-installed) that are cause for concern.
Roofs with structural defects, missing or broken shingles, and other problems are more susceptible to being damaged by snow and ice.
Any time you’re thinking about structural integrity, there’s a good rule of thumb to keep in mind: a structure is only as strong as its weakest point. That’s why it’s a good idea to get a roof inspection before winter, especially if you have an older roof. When pressure accumulates on a weak spot, it can create bigger problems down the line.
Snow and ice in your gutters
Gutters are far less resistant to pressure than roofs are - they are, after all, designed for water flow, not for supporting snowfall.
You should clean out your gutters thoroughly in the fall to make sure water flows through them properly. When there’s too much pressure on your gutters, they can get ripped out of place, which can damage your soffits. Be sure to clean them of snow and ice regularly in the winter, too!
Watch for falling branches
One of the biggest causes for roof-related damage in the winter time doesn’t come from the roof’s structure at all - it comes from other things falling on the roof.
The best way to deal with falling branches is to eliminate them at the source - trim off branches that are close to your roof (or, for that matter, your neighbour’s roof) so they don’t break and hit your roof in the winter.
While most branches won’t destroy a roof outright, they can certainly damage shingles and create problems down the line. Of course, some branches are large enough to cause substantial damage, as are some old trees - be especially wary of these. If your roof is damaged due to a tree falling on your home, your insurance coverage should cover the cost if you file a claim.
Check your chimney, too
Chimneys, especially old brick and mortar chimneys, are quite susceptible to damage in the winter. As you can imagine, damage to the chimney invariably leads to problems with the roof. Moisture can slip into the mortar between the bricks and freeze, causing damage. Mortar is also a bit more prone to the effects of expansion and contraction as the air warms and cools.
Poor insulation and melting snow
Here’s a winter problem that most homeowners don’t think of: poor insulation leading to heat seeping through their roof and causing snow to melt. The runoff can then enter through broken or missing shingles, causing water damage to your home’s interior.
This is a pretty serious problem, since it can go unnoticed for most of the season, until real damage has been done. Your roof is an important source of insulation, so it’s important to make sure it’s well-maintained.
The point of this piece is simple - winter is the season that poses the most risks to your roof, and it’s always a good idea to get an inspection before the cold hits, if you haven’t had one in awhile. We are an esteemed Calgary roofing contractor and we can help with that.