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Dealing with Snow on your Roof

Snow piled on your roof is a part of winter life in some areas of the country. The questions are: how much, and for how long? You can keep possible problems to a minimum by making sure your roof is ready for winter.

Winterize Your Roof to Reduce Roof Leaks

People remember to get their cars and snow shovels ready for winter, but forget that roofs bear the brunt of winter's cold, snowy storms. You can shovel snow off your driveway and sidewalk, but what about all that snow on your roof? Sometimes it sits there for weeks or months on end, with little time to dry out. If your roof isn't prepared for winter weather, you may end up with hard-to-trace roof leaks and costly roof repairs.

The first step in roof winterization is to have a roofing contractor do a thorough inspection. Roofing contractors have the experience to notice potential problems that most homeowners may not recognize. A roofing contractor will provide a list of roof repairs that should be done before it snows, along with a cost estimate. The primary areas they inspect are:

  • Ventilation--Heat from your home's furnace can rise into your attic and melt snow on your roof from the bottom up. When the top layer of snow and the contents of your gutter freeze, the melted snow underneath has no where to go. As it refreezes ice damming can occur. Ice damming causes roof leaks and expensive roof repairs. Adequate attic ventilation can prevent such problems.
  • Flashing--Anywhere your roof is penetrated by a chimney, vent, or plumbing stack, there should be appropriate flashing installed. Your roof also has flashing where it contacts the vertical walls of your home. Over time, flashing can come loose or torn. Loose or missing flashing is often the cause of roof leaks from melting snow
  • Valleys--The valleys on your roof often catch blowing snow, and they can take longer to melt than the rest of your roof. A roofing contractor can ensure that whatever system was used to clad and seal your roof's valleys is in good condition.
  • Gutters--Your gutters get a workout during the winter, as they catch rain,melting snow, and ice. A roofing contractor can eliminate possible blockages, check that hangers are intact, and that all of your gutters have adequate fall (slope.)

If you live in an area that receives heavy snowfall, you might want to have a roofing contractor check your roof trusses for issues related to extra weight on your roof. Remember, a roof inspection is inexpensive compared to costly and unexpected roof repairs.

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Roofing vs. Reroofing

Roofing vs. Reroofing

If you come to find out that your roof has been damaged and needs to be fixed then there are two main approaches you can take. You can either decide to make a roof repair or replace the entire roof. Roof repairs will generally save you time and money, but in most cases a new roof is the best option. As a general rule of thumb, if the existing roof on is only one layer and there are no problems with the roof deck, a new roof is not necessary.

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