Snow is rarely the cause of problems when there is no ice accumulation. Leaks or roof damage are normally caused by ice. Specific hazards associated with snow accumulation are the additional weight added to the roof and the risk of snow falling on passers-by or objects directly below.
If your home complies with the Construction Code, most winters you should not have to worry about having to clear your roof of snow. However, if a record amount of snow is reported, or your home does not meet current building standards, or if you have a significant snow accumulation due to winds, there may be cause for concern. Normally, you should not have to shovel your roof if there is less than 2 feet of snow accumulated. On the other hand, if there have been frequent cycles of freezing and thawing or a lot of rain and snow mixing, this could result in heavier and more compact snow.
It is time to clear your roof of snow if you notice cracks in the following areas:
- In the corners of doors;
- On window frames;
- Any other cracking noise or signs of wood breakage.
In addition, if doors or windows become difficult or impossible to open or close, it may be time to consider snow removal from your roof.
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During winter and early spring, water infiltration damage is very often caused by ice dams that have formed on the roof. Depending on the slope of your roof, it is possible that even a small amount of ice could damage your roof.
Why is ice forming on the roof?
Much of the ice dams that form on roofs result from excessive heat loss or poor roof ventilation. When hot air gets trapped in the attic, it causes the snow to melt on the upper level of the roof. The melted snow then freezes again when it reaches the lower part of the roof, the eave, which is not linked to any heat source. When a significant amount of ice forms in this area, it prevents water from draining off, causing water to pool on the roof. Water that is trapped by the ice dam eventually seeps into the roof system (through the shingle sheets or through the normal holes where the screws and nails are located).
It is usually easy to know if a water infiltration is the result of ice damming on the roof by observing the location of the water leak. Ice dams very often form along the outside walls and this is where the resulting leaks usually occur. In the event of water infiltration, it is often seen near windows, doors or fixtures. Indeed, in these areas, the vapour barriers are usually cut off during the construction of the house.
How does ice damage a roof?
Ice dams can damage your roof system in two ways. First, the ice can spread and make its way under the shingle. The force of the expanding ice can cause the shingle to bend, lose its granules or simply tear it apart. Secondly, improper attempts to de-ice the roof can result in un-intended damage. By calling on an expert, it is possible to avoid this from happening.
How to get rid of ice on a roof?
The most effective way to get rid of ice dams is to create cracks in the ice, allowing water to drain naturally off the roof. After the roof has been cleared of snow, a hammer is used to carefully and meticulously dig a crevice in the ice. The professional in charge is careful to apply enough pressure to break the ice without damaging the roof. Although the risk of damaging the roof during de-icing is always present, it is particularly reduced when done properly and by a professional. Thousands of dollars can be saved by removing ice dams from your roof, which avoids costly damage caused by water infiltration. If you have recurring problems with the formation of ice dams, it would be wise to have the condition of your attic and ventilation system checked by a professional.