Snow and Ice Damage: Roof Repair and Prevention

Winter’s on the way and even though Vancouver has a temperate coastal climate, we still get our share of ice and even snow. Roof repair might seem a natural consequence of snow and ice buildup, but it doesn’t have to be. Heed these basics for a long-lasting and trouble-free roof.

Basic Causes of Snow and Ice Damage Leading to Roof Repair

Snow and Ice Damage - Roof RepairHeat from the house rises into the attic and heats the roof from underneath. Where and how this occurs:

  1. Snow covering the roof melts.
  2. Melted snow runs down the roof and re-freezes on the non-heated overhanging portion of the roof.
  3. An ice dam forms that will catch and hold water where it can run underneath roofing and past flashing to cause water damage.
  4. The water around roofing tiles or shakes and flashing freezes and may cause buckling or breakage in flashing, gutters, downspouts and other features of the roof system.
  5. Ice dams can weigh a substantial amount and bring about considerable damage when they finally slide off.
  6. Moving snow and ice dams can break windows, damage walls and harm chimneys.

The presence of this heat results from:
Snow and Ice Damage - Roof Repair

  • Insulation that has become compacted and compressed, therefore losing some of its insulating effectiveness.
  • Poorly insulated and/or sealed ducting in the attic.
  • Design deficiencies inherent in older structures from times when insulation was poor or non-existent.
  • Modern architectural designs poorly thought out or executed, allowing moisture to pool on roof areas.
  • Scrimping on insulation materials during construction to save cost, or insulating carried out by insufficiently trained workers.

Some inclement weather factors and conditions can overwhelm even the best roofing system. One of the key factors for prevention is a proper upgrade of the insulation and heat efficiency of the house or commercial building. A reliable and experienced Vancouver roofer should be consulted before going ahead with any such action.

Snow and Ice Damage Emergency Options

  • De-icing chemicals and salts. Forms of these exist on the market, but should only be used advisedly, if at all. They can cause damage to plant life, leave stains and degrade roofing and flashing materials.
  • Mechanical removal. Pounding on ice to loosen it can damage roofing. If necessary, use this method by starting at the top and working down so ice slides off over ice, not roofing. Use a blunt tool, like a sledge. It is very easy to damage roofing with axes and narrow instruments.

Snow and Ice Damage - Roof Repair

  • Roof rakes. These work well, especially if you have time to stay ahead of the snowfall and are not dealing with freezing rain. A long pole with a board on the end that folds flat when being pushed upward and flips down to catch snow when pulled allows removal of snow and will reduce the snow available to melt and re-form into ice dams on roof areas.
  • Heat cords and heat tapes. Various forms of these are commercially available and when used properly, can effectively melt drainage channels, allowing melted snow to run off safely. For some applications, versions exist that can be installed permanently on or under roofing.
  • Flashing under the bottom few feet of roofing. This helps catch and prevent leaks from water diverted under roofing by ice dams. It must be installed during construction or during a re-roofing procedure.

For complete planning and prevention, along with professional roof repair when needed, consult with your local Vancouver roofer to get sound advice on the best options for the needs of your particular building.
 
vancouver-rooferAs a renovator Doug did many rot repairs which gave him a good understanding of where and why buildings leak, and how to prevent it. He realized the need for a different approach to roofing; one that educated the customer enough to make good decisions. With better trained installers and a quality inspection process Absolute Roof Solutions was born…” Read more.

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