prevent Snow from Damaging Your Roof

How to Prevent Snow from Damaging Your Roof

Learn how to protect your home's roof from heavy snow damage

Now is the time for us to be on the alert for snow and, more importantly, heavy snow and how to prevent snow from damaging your roof. To the north of us recently experienced six feet of accumulated snow in places, and it could happen here in our locale as well. We all know about the work required to keep our driveways and streets clear of snow, but what about our roofs? Removing snow from your roof is important for a couple of reasons–ice dams and excess weight. Both of these can ruin, if not destroy, your roof. At Allied Roofing Solutions, your experienced and licensed New Jersey roofers, we know a thing or two about roofs and the damage that can occur during the winter from snow. In this article, we talk about some things you can do to prevent heavy snow from damaging your roof, making roof repairs and even total replacement necessary. 

Ice Dams

As we stated earlier, preventing ice dams on your roof is critical to the state of your roof. An ice dam is an ice buildup that blocks off sections of your roof and prevents snow from sliding off of it. An ice dam consists of a ridge of ice that forms usually around the edge of the roof. They can occur around skylights, roof vents, and where two roofs converge. Because ice weighs more than 57 pounds per cubic foot, your roof isn’t equipped to handle it. 

The reason ice dams form is because of poor insulation or ventilation in the attic. As heat from your house escapes into the attic, a reaction occurs. The heat from the attic causes the roofing material to heat up and melt the snow on your roof. If the upper area of a roof is warmer than the lower edge, nearest the eave or overhang, the snow begins to melt and run down the roof slope. When the water reaches the edge of the roof where the temperature is below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (or 0 degree Celsius), it freezes. This melting and refreezing process create ice dams, which in turn create perfect places for water to pool. This means the snowmelt can’t drain and the water pools on the roof.

ice dams on a house

Ice dams can cause extensive damage to your roof when left untreated. If the water from the melted snow continues to flow, the water pools and backs up onto the roof surface over time. As a result, the pool of water can creep under the shingles and into the house causing water damage to walls, ceilings, insulation, and other areas.

How to Prevent Ice Dams

Ice dams can be prevented with winter maintenance, snow removal, and proper attic ventilation and insulation. The fact is that your attic should not be the same temperature as inside your home. A properly insulated and ventilated attic will be only a few degrees different from the outside. 

Before winter weather arrives, have your roof inspected by a professional New Jersey roofing contractor, like Allied Roofing Solutions. From an inspection, they can tell you the maintenance that needs to be completed and inspect your attic for appropriate insulation and ventilation.

Additionally, ice buildup and dams are fairly inexpensive to prevent. In addition to proper insulation and ventilation, another way is to invest in heating cables to help the snow slide off the roof. Position them along sections of the roof or in the gutters to prevent icy buildup. These heating cables (also called de-icing cables) are weather-resistant. They can also warm up your downspouts and overhangs to keep ice out of the eaves.

Excess Weight from Snow

Snow and ice put undue stress on a roof because of the excess weight. Even 12 or fewer inches of snow on the roof, divided equally, can weigh thousands of pounds. And ice weighs even more at 57 pounds per cubic foot so one dam could weigh thousands of pounds. Even though your roof is built to handle some weight, the excess weight of snow and ice can increase the risk of leaking and collapsing. Uneven roofs or low-pitched roofs especially feel the burden of heavy snowfall.

How can you know if there is too much weight on your roof? Open and close all your windows and doors. If they are not operating smoothly–if there is friction–it is more than likely being caused by excess weight on the roof. Another sign that your roof has too much snow accumulation is if you begin to hear cracking noises. This indicates overload on the trusses and joists.

Warning signs that your roof may be experiencing excess weight:

  • Sagging ceiling tiles or boards
  • Popping, cracking, and creaking noises
  • Interior doors that can’t be opened or closed
  • Cracks in walls or masonry
  • Severe roof leaks

What To Do To Prevent Excess Weight On The Roof

Removing snow after six inches have accumulated can prevent the excess weight from snow and ice dams that are forming. If you are only concerned with the weight, remove snow after a foot and a half to two feet of snow accumulates. To remove the snow, use a long-handled rake that is specifically designed for the job. 

Never get up either on a ladder or on your roof to remove the snow. Your roof doesn't need additional weight on it. Instead, inspect the roof for loose shingles that can catch the roof rake. And, then look for power lines or tree branches that can interfere with the rake. Start at the edge of the roof and rake your way in. Be careful to leave several inches of snow on the roof so as not to damage any shingles, which would cause roof damage.

Contact Us for a Free Roof Inspection Before Severe Winter Weather

At Allied Roofing Solutions, our knowledgeable team can inspect your roof for potential hazards resulting from heavy snow and frigid weather. We can alert you to precautionary measures that you may need to take in order to survive the winter without major repairs to your roof. Reach out to us to schedule a free consultation for a roof inspection and your roof repairs.  We serve New Jersey residents in Bergen County, Essex County, Hudson County, Middlesex County, Morris County, Passaic County, and Somerset County.  Please call us at 201-773-0633 or fill out our free roof estimate form to schedule an appointment so we can help protect your home from further damage caused by ice dams or heavy snow accumulation.