Any homeowner can tell you that winters can be rough on Denver roofs. Winter months can be extremely difficult for roof structures. The elements, including snow and ice, can cause significant damage during this season. A blanket of snow on the roof may be aesthetically pleasing, but it places a significant amount of strain on the structure and puts your people in danger. You cannot control the snow, but you should be aware of how to seek assistance in case of emergency (and you should know how to spot those concerns as well).
What damage could your roof face in the Winter?
Depending on where you reside, different types of roof damage may be possible during the winter. During this time, it is important to pay attention to the needs of your home across the nation. Throughout the season, there are a few key areas of concern to pay close attention to.
Ice dams can form on your roof and gutters
During the winter months, ice dams are one of the most prevalent and serious threats to roof safety. Large icicles dangling from the edge of the roof or the eaves of the home indicate a significant issue. These solid icicles are the result of a snow-covered roof and freezing weather.
However, they also create ice dams.
If you notice large icicles on any part of your roof during the winter, this could mean that your attic is not insulated properly and these ice dams can impact your roof’s ability to keep water out of your home. If your roof forms large icicles, schedule a roof inspection when the snow melts to make sure your roof is still functioning properly.
Ice dams are large, solid ridges of ice that form along the roof’s eaves. They can damage the roof’s shingles, pull down the gutters, and even cause water to back up into the home. Occasionally, ice dams form under the shingles, creating pockets of moisture that, when it rains, can seep into a home’s roof and cause extensive damage, including roof leaks. In your attic alone, ice dams can cause sagging ceilings, warped flooring, and peeling paint, among other issues.
Do not attempt to remove ice dams by climbing up and pulling on them or by striking them. This will not assist you in removing them and may increase your risk of injury. Also, do not sprinkle salt on them, as this is unlikely to make a significant difference and could harm the plants.
Installing preventative measures such as heated cables and heat tape before the start of the season could be beneficial. This works to melt ice and prevent its refreeze, allowing water to flow away from your structure. If ice dams are present, be sure to thoroughly inspect the roof and attic space of your home once they thaw and melt to detect any water damage they may have caused. This is the most effective way to safeguard your roofing structure.
If you reside in a region that receives significant snowfall, the snow load of your roof is a crucial consideration. Snowfall can weigh up to three pounds per square foot. This is the type that is typically light and fluffy. Snow that is heavy and wet can weigh up to 21 pounds per square foot. While light, fluffy snow may be acceptable for most roof structures in good condition, this is unlikely to be the case with heavy snow, especially if more than a few inches of snow accumulates on the roof.
Homes in Denver are built for the roof to be able to hold a regular season’s worth of snow. There is no need to remove or address the snow on your roof for a typical Denver winter. The only time you need to address the snow is if there is a lot more snowfall than usual, or if there are multiple warmer days in a row and the snow does not seem to be melting or sliding off your roof at the same rate as the houses around you.
It is not always safe to remove a substantial amount of snow from your roof by yourself. If you have concerns about the roof collapsing due to weight, such as with an older structure or a roof that is in need of repair, call a roofing professional for assistance. Many have specialized equipment that can assist in safely reducing the amount of snow on your roof.
This risk is difficult to avoid, especially during a snowstorm. In some areas, however, the use of heat tape or rope on the roof structure may be beneficial. It helps melt snow as it falls on the roof. They may provide some risk mitigation for the structure.
Blocked Gutters from debris
During the autumn months, many homeowners take the time to clean out their gutters. This is significant because this is the time of year when gutters are most likely to become clogged with debris. However, debris can still enter these areas after they have been cleaned. This is one of the best reasons to install gutter guards, as it will help to prevent this issue from occurring in the first place.
However, if your gutters are currently clogged with debris, you must exercise extreme caution when attempting to remove them. This increases your risk of an accident. You can attempt to remove debris from the gutters on a dry day when slipping is not a concern. Consider using a professional service for assistance with this process.
Ice filled gutters
Typically, there is a blockage present when gutters fill with ice. This causes water to back up rather than flow down the slopes. When this occurs, ice accumulates, and eventually, debris such as twigs and leaves build up further, causing significant ice accumulation in the gutters. This, combined with the freezing temperatures, prevents water from flowing over time.
When you have such gutters, do not put salt directly on them, as this will not help in most cases and can cause gutter corrosion. If you need to get them flowing again, you can use hot water or a roof rake to do so.
Heat loss is a concern for most homes during the winter. This can occur for numerous reasons, including structural damage to the home. Heat loss is typically caused by air leaks or small spaces that allow heated air to escape.
Windows are a typical source of heat loss during the winter. Even if the windows are closed and locked, they may still allow air leakage if the window seals have even the smallest gaps. These can be detected by running your hand along the interior and exterior of the window sill. If you feel cold air, this could indicate a leak that needs to be sealed.
The same holds true for doors. When a door is improperly sealed, small amounts of air can escape. Wait until nightfall and then have a person stand outside the door with a flashlight to check for door leaks. Move the flashlight along all seams and window frames of the door. The presence of light indicates that there is also an air leak.
Your home’s heated air can also leak through the roof. If your roof is in good condition, and not too old, this issue can be solved with proper insulation in your attic. If you think there is damage to the roof, be sure to have a licensed professional inspect your roof for missing shingles and structural damage.
Monitor your roof for any of these issues, if you notice anything of concern, schedule a roof inspection for the Spring or when the snow melts.