While it is true we cannot control the weather, we can control what that weather does to our roofs. Winter is a particularly harsh season for our home’s crowning glory as heavy snow and ice can damage the roof materials, and ultimately your home if the proper precautions aren’t administered.
Ice dams can occur on your roof when melting snow travels down it in the warmer temperatures of the day and then re-freezes at the eaves when the temps dip down during the nighttime hours. The ice gradually builds up along the roofline which won’t allow water that comes later on to drain properly. The ice that ‘grows’ with each thaw freeze cycle can lead to damage to your gutters, shingles, roof deck, ceilings and walls. It happens more frequently on roofs that slope and of course in colder climates, but since Ontario is surrounded by the Great Lakes and there is always the risk for lake effect snow, ice dams can be a problem. But there are some things you can keep in mind to eliminate the threat.
Keeping your roof warm, while sounding like it will work will in fact not work to ensure you don’t get an ice dam. Keeping your roof at a consistent cold temperature is the best way to combat the problem. Ventilation systems that allow the air from the house to escape properly and adding extra insulation in the attic are both great preventative measures. They both keep the roof at a stable albeit cold temperature thus allowing the snow to melt off at its own pace and in a controlled way.
If you are in an area that has temperature fluctuations throughout the winter, it is a good idea to remove the snow from your roof with a rake or broom. Keep safe and never step on your roof, especially in the winter, but taking that broom and brushing the snow you can safely reach off the roof will go a long way in helping with the problem of ice dams.
We don’t have much control over the roof of our home, but when you are in the market for a new roof or are building a new home, consider using a material like metal for your roof that allows snow to easily slide off. Having a membrane installed under your shingles to protect the underside of the roof from leakage is also a great idea and will help to keep your roof looking great for years.