Snow usually does not cause problems with roof waterproofing. Leaks or roof damage are normally caused by ice. The only 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. Modern roofs are designed to support our usual amounts of snow.
Most winters, if your home complies with the Construction Code, you should not have to worry about having to clear your roof of snow. However, if a record amount of snow is reported, if your home does not meet current building standards or if you have snow accumulating on your roof due to deviations, 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 painting;
- In drywall;
- In the corners of doors;
- On window frames;
- Any other noise of cracking or signs of breakage in the wood.
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, damage due to water infiltration is very often caused by ice walls that have formed on the roof. Depending on the slope of your roof, it is possible that a very small amount of ice can significantly damage your roof.
Why is ice forming on the roof?
Much of the ice walls 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 snow then freezes again when it reaches the lower part of the roof, the cornice, which is not linked to any heat source. When a significant amount of ice forms, this prevents water from flowing off the roof, causing a pond of water on the roof. Water that is trapped by the ice dam then 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 accumulation on the roof by observing the location of the water leak. Ice walls very often form along the outside walls. This is where the resulting leaks usually occur. In the event of water infiltration, it is more often than not 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 walls 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, the damage is often the result of clumsy attempts to de-ice the roof. By calling on an expert, it is possible to overcome this last problem.
How to get rid of ice on a roof?
The most effective way to get rid of ice walls is to create cracks in the ice, allowing water to flow 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 without damaging the roof. If a roof axe is used, it is preferable to use the side of the axe for the thickest part of the ice. For ice less than 2 inches thick, it is best to use the hammer side of the axe. The risk of damaging the roof during de-icing is always present, but it is particularly reduced when done properly and by a professional. Thousands of dollars can be saved by removing ice from your roof, which avoids costly damage caused by water infiltration.If you have recurring problems with the formation of ice walls, it would be wise to have the condition of your attic and ventilation system checked by a professional.