Here is some advice from Overhead Roofing, one of the most experienced and knowledgeable Cincinnati roofers, regarding keeping your roof problem-free in the winter months.
Inspect Your Roof, Gutters and Downspouts
Make sure your roof, gutters and downspouts are kept free of leaves, twigs, branches, baseballs and other debris which may obstruct rainwater from draining properly. Look for water spilling over the sides of the gutters, and any obstacle that could be blocking the drainage from exiting the downspouts. Ice can build up in these areas in freezing weather, resulting in extra weight and stress, and possibly causing ice dams and other problems.
Look for Signs of Leaks
If you notice any signs that indicate your roof may be leaking, contact a reputable roofing contractor immediately. Delaying taking action may result in a more complex problem and a more costly repair bill.
Keep an Eye on Snow and Ice Buildup on Your Roof
Heavy, repeated snowfalls when the temperature stays below freezing can result in a significant accumulation of snow and ice on your roof. Each year, many homeowners experience serious damage due to roof systems that fail under the additional crushing weight of snow and ice. Recently, the Metrodome in Minneapolis experienced a roof failure due to winter weather conditions.
A roof designed for a 20 lb per square foot snow load could mathematically hold up to four inches of ice, or four feet of snow. Wet and packed snow weighs more than this, so a roof with a load of wet or packed snow might only be able to hold up to three feet of snow. A roof might be able to sustain this maximum weight for several days or a few weeks, but probably no more than a month because the wooden structural supports can fail due to fatigue under extended heavy loading.
So, what is a safe amount of snow to have on your roof over a prolonged time period? A good estimate would be about half of the 20 lb per square foot design load, or about two feet of snow, or one inch of ice and one foot of snow.
What do you do if you have too much snow on your roof?
The best thing to do is try to remove it as soon as you can. One good way to remove snow from a roof is to physically get on the roof and push the snow off with a shovel, broom or a leaf blower. Take necessary safety precautions and a good dose of common sense, as this activity can be very dangerous. You may also consider using a snow rake, but if you do so, use care in handling it near overhead electrical power lines. Also avoid too much heavy scraping or chipping of ice because this can damage the shingles and cause even more problems.
Check for Ice Dams
Ice dams can bring about the need for some costly repairs if not attended to immediately. If ice or snow freezes and fills your gutters, the additional melting snow running down your roof can form pools of water instead of flowing through the gutters. This collecting water can back up, penetrating underneath the shingles and causing leaks into your attic, ceilings and walls.
Cleaning debris, snow and ice from gutters and eaves is a great protective measure against ice damming. Ask your roofing contractor to check your attic for proper insulation and ventilation, which will both serve to keep the attic from getting too warm, thereby reducing the formation of ice dams.
Better Safe Than Sorry
If you have any doubts about the condition of your roof in the icy winter months, or have any questions about what you can do to minimize the harsh effects of winter weather, call a trusted reputable roofing contractor to be sure. If you’re a homeowner in the southwest Ohio area, call one of the most trusted Cincinnati roofers for a free roof inspection – Overhead Roofing – 513-844-8700, or visit their website at http://www.overheadroofing.com.
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