Snow capped houses are charming, but don’t be fooled by their delicate beauty. Snow has a great deal of weight, and that weight increases immensely when rain, ice and sleet are added to the mix. Two feet of snow on the average-sized roof can be the equivalent of 38,000 pounds, or 19 tons.
Complicating matters more, the melting of this mass can cause water seepage, which can rot roofs, destroy insulation, flood attics, ruin gutters and damage the interior of your home.
The obvious sign that a roof is about to give way is sagging. Also, if you hear creaking, cracking, popping sounds, you should get out of the building as quickly as possible, as these are strong indicators of an imminent collapse.
Severe roof leaks, bowed pipes attached at the ceilings, cracks in the walls or masonry, doors that pop open, as well as doors or windows that are difficult to open are also signs people should look for. If you have any of these call Statewide Roofing, 24 hours a day we can send someone to assess your roofs condition.
Roof and gutter systems are designed to capture and redirect rain and snow away from the home, keeping your walls and foundation safe from water damage.
But each winter, the functionality of many roof and gutter systems is called into question as fluctuating temperatures cause snow to melt and then refreeze on the edge of the roof, creating a dam.
What causes ice dams?
Ice dams form when when the upper part of a roof is at a temperature above freezing for a considerable amount of time while the lower part is at a temperature below freezing. Due to changes in temperature throughout the day, snow near the top of the roof will melt and trickle down. But the water freezes again as it reaches the gutters, forming a dam.
Ice dams often occur when the attic is not properly insulated from the rest of the house, allowing warm air to escape to the attic and heat up the top of the roof. The temperature difference can also be caused by a lack of proper attic ventilation, essentially trapping ambient heat inside the attic, where it warms up the roof.
The damage an ice dam can do
As their name implies, ice dams are a barrier through which water cannot pass. This means that as more snow on the roof melts and trickles down, it gets blocked by the ice dam and forms a puddle. Since your roof wasn’t designed to handle standing water, especially as that puddle grows and the water line moves up the roof, the water can then seep through tiny openings in the roof and into your attic or home.
Once the water gets into your house, the damage can be severe. Even a small leak can stain your walls or ceiling and cause mold to form. A severe leak can cause the wood in your walls to rot, resulting in serious structural problems.