The winter months can be hard on your asphalt roof due to the weight of snow and ice. If your area has colder temperatures than usual, or if you get a lot more snow than you typically get each year, you should be alert to potential problems. Here are some problems caused by snow and ice and what you can do about them.
If the snow piles up on your roof, it can add a lot of weight to the support structure of your house. The weight may even get so heavy that your roof caves in. Roofs are built according to local codes, which take into account the amount of snow your area gets each year. You shouldn't have to worry about snow unless you have a rare snow event that drops a lot more snow than you are used to.
You also need to consider whether it is dry snow or wet snow, since wet snow weighs a lot more. If your roof starts to sag, you'll notice it in the interior of your house first. Warning signs are cracks in plaster along interior walls and interior doors that don't swing freely. Ideally, you'll remove the snow before this type of damage occurs. If you have a steep roof or a home with two levels, you'll probably need to call a roofing contractor to clear off your roof.
If you live in a single story home, you may be able to knock the snow off yourself using a snow rake with a long handle you can use while standing on the ground. It's only necessary to remove the excess—you don't want to scrape off the snow all the way down to the shingles, or you might cause damage to your roof.
Ice dams cause a lot of problems with roofs in freezing weather. The ice forces water under your shingles, which can damage the shingles and cause roof leaks. The dams form when heat from your attic melts snow on the roof. The liquid then drips to the edge of the roof where it freezes again and forms a big block of ice. If the block gets big enough, it can rip off shingles and tear down your gutters.
Prevent ice dams by insulating and ventilating your attic to keep heat from warming up the roof. Apply a heavy layer of insulation on the attic floor to keep warmth from the house from seeping into the attic. Then make sure vents in the attic are open, so cold air from outside can get inside to keep the attic cold.
It's always a good idea to inspect your roof once winter is over, especially if the winter was a bad one. That way you can have repairs done before the spring rains begin. For more information about roofing, visit a roofing company like North Shore Roofing & Drainage Ltd.