A big repair I had last year was roof damage to a building with a medium sloped roof that held onto the 36 inches of snow we had last February. Many people try to remove the snow themselves but this often causes more damage from the removal instrument, often a snow shovel, or injury to the homeowner. Let the professionals handle this high wire act of climbing onto the roof for repairs.
The average roof replacement in the U.S. is $8,000. What you can do to prevent a complete replacement is look for signs of leaks in your attic and around skylights. During a sunny day, you can see pinholes of light looking up at the attic where a crack may have occurred. Press on the paneling to find weak spots or any signs of water damage. Early detection is the way to prevent major problems.
There are two issues the snow can cause and the first is less common. The weight of the snow build up can press down on weak spots. While it’s hard to believe, depending on roof size, just 12 inches of compacted snow can put several hundred pounds of weight on the roof. As snow builds, up to 1000 additional pounds of weight can be pressing down and on weak areas, these can cave in. This is why you should be checking inside the home for weak spots in your attic.
More common is the snow and ice melting into water which is looking for the path of least resistance and finds its way to cracks in sideboards or flashings. These are not meant to handle this amount of water and after hours and days of melting, can dump gallons of water into areas not meant to resist this much water.
Some people think tossing salt or other ice and snow melters on the roof is the answer, but often these products break down the asphalt and may even void your warranty. It is best to let the snow melt and keep a keen eye out for leaks.
In areas with heavy snowfall, gutters and downspouts can often fill with packed snow and either damage the roof or break under the pressure of the weight. You will need to judge the amount of snow and build up in the gutter system to determine if a mid winter removal is needed to prevent damage. This is not an easy process and may require professional help.
Finally, skylights may leak because their weep holes are blocked. Make sure you give a professional roofer a good outline of where skylights are in cases where you need a professional while packed snow is on your roof so he doesn’t accidentally damage them.
Asphalt shingles are the most commonly used in the U.S. for waterproofing as Wikipedia explains in this article. Good preparation prior to winter is the way to prevent serious damage during snowstorms that bring massive amount of snow onto our roof tops. Gutter cleaning to remove all leaves and debris from fall will ensure your gutter system can handle the maximum amount of snow and water during the winter season. Inspecting walls and attics for leaks, holes and weak spots will enable you to address minor issues before they become major with hundreds of pounds of snow on top.
Prepare your home for winter now with a thorough inspection and use these preventative tips.