Honest Abe Roofing

Roof Snow Damage & Ice Dams 

Snow Can Cause Various Problems for the Average Roof 

If you have an asphalt roof, you may be wondering how well it can handle snowy conditions. Metal roofs are a good option for people looking for the most resilient material against snow. But given its cost relative to asphalt shingles, most people find that asphalt is the best option for them. It's wroth noting that properly installed and high quality shingles can certainly do the job as long as the dangers of snow and ice dam formation are taken into account. 

So let's go ahead and explore some common roofing problems caused by ice and snow.  

Snow Can Cause Excess Condensation in Your Attic 

Condensation forms inside the attic when warm air touches the underside of a cold, snow-covered roof. Too much condensation will lead to mold growth and water damaged wood. Most of the time, this problem can be addressed by adding sufficient ventilation and insulation inside the attic. If you aren't sure if your attic is well-ventilated, have a professional roofer visit and inspect the inside. 

The Weight of Too Much Snow Can Damage Your Roof 

Most homes will not encounter snow conditions severe enough to do serious damage to their roof. The average home can withstand 3 to 4 feet of fresh snow before serious damage begins to occur. However, well-packed snow and wet snow quickly become much heavier than fresh snow. Just two feet of packed or wet snow may begin to cause damage for the average home. However, colder regions tend to have stricter codes for roof loads to account for snowier conditions. maroon craftsman style home with snow on the roof and in the front yard

Should I Scrape Snow Off My Roof? 

If you have more than 1-2 feet of snow on your roof, you may be wise to have it removed to avoid straining the roof structure and to prevent unnecessary wear and tear. Like we mentioned above, most areas that receive significant amounts of snow have local ordinances requiring roofs to withstand significant amounts of weight. But that doesn’t mean that over time, heavy snowfall each season season won’t begin to wear down on your roof’s structural integrity.

One important thing to keep in mind at all times: never go up on your roof if it is wet with any kind of precipitation whether snow, ice, or rain. 

The risk of falling and injury is simply too great to be worth the effort. Hire a professional for snow removal or remove the snow from the ground using specially designed tools. 

But What If I'm Worried About Ice Dams?

If you are concerned about an ice dam forming, you may want to try using a snow scraping tool while standing on the ground or bring in a professional snow remover. Once the snow season has ended, be sure to upgrade your roof and attic so that ice dams are unlikely to form again. We will dive into how to deal with ice dams in the following section.

Why Is My Roof Leaking When It Snows? 

Generally, this is a sign that your roof has developed an ice dam

What Are Ice Dams (And How Do They Form)? 

An ice dam is an area on the roof where snow has melted into water but has become trapped by surrounding ice. If the pool of water remains on your roof long enough, it will begin to seep under the shingles and find entry points into the attic below. 

The main reason ice dams form: 

  • Ice dams form when there are hot spots in your attic. If the middle parts of your roof are too warm, the snow will melt into water but become trapped by ice in colder parts of the roof toward the edges. 

A secondary reason or cause for ice dams: 

  • Ice dams can form when gutters are clogged with frozen leaves or downspouts aren't working correctly. 

How Do Ice Dams Damage Your Roof? 

Ice dams lead to moisture entry inside the attic or home. This leads to mold growth, wood rot, and other forms of water damage. Ice is also much heavier than snow and can cause weight damage to the roof. 

How To Prevent Ice Dams

We have outlined some steps for dealing with ice dams below. 

  • Insulate the walls and attic: If your home is older and insulation is missing or insufficient, warm air may be flowing through spaces between the roof and walls and up into the attic. 
  • Ventilate the attic: You may want to look at your eaves or soffit to check for vents. A roofer may need to improve your ridge vents or intake vents to ensure that there is plenty of airflow.
  • Keep gutters and roof valleys clear: Make sure your drainage system is in good working order and cleared of all leaves and debris every season.
  • Install heating cables for extra protection: Heating cables (or heating tape) are a system of electric cords that can be added to areas of the roof that are prone to ice dams. 
  • Use a roof rake: After other precautions have been taken, it doesn't hurt to go outside after a storm and manually pull down snow from areas where water can start to form.  

roof covered in one foot of snow with icicles hanging from gutter

Repair for Ice Dam Damage 

When it comes to severe damage from storms, leaks, or ice dams, you want to hire a team that has many years of experience. The team at Honest Abe Roofing has helped many homeowners dealing with water damage from ice dams. We can also advise you on improving your roof's resilience against snow and ice. And if you're totally fed up with it, we can even install a new metal roof so you get total peace of mind. 

Find an roofer near you for more solutions for snow damaged roofs. 

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