Roofing Concerns and Roofing Questions You May Face This Winter

As the warm temperatures disappear and the threat of snow, sleet and ice draw near, many homeowners turn their attention to interior projects. But roofing concerns and questions about your roof can easily arise during the winter months with harsh weather conditions damaging or wearing away at your roof.

Consider these common roofing problems and how the challenges of winter weather force homeowners to deal with them in a unique way.

Ice Dams

When ice and snow build up at the gutters the resulting blockage will cause serious damage to your shingles. Ice can effectively cut off the passage of melted snow and that water needs to travel somewhere. Often it is pushed back under the shingles and into the house, usually at the exterior wall.

Homeowners may not notice this until water damage appears in the house. If you suspect that an ice dam has blocked the gutters get up into the attic and look for leakage, seepage and puddles of water. Large and long icicles hanging from your eaves may also be a sign that your roof is prone to ice dams.

There are just two possible and immediate solutions to this problem. The ice blocking the gutters can be cleared away or the snow build up on the roof can be shoveled off. Both are dangerous propositions and most roofers will attempt to find a solution that does not require heading up to the roof in winter. Conditions are often very dangerous up there.

Remember that removing the ice blockage can result in damage to your gutters and fascia. But the repairs required in spring are generally more affordable than the cost to repair water damage inside your home. Consider how much damage a small amount of water can do in your attic or behind the drywall and compare that to the cost of repairing the gutters after the ice dams have been removed.

Preventative measures can be put in place once the weather has warmed up. Ice guards installed under the shingles prevent the water from seeping into your walls, but this product will not prevent the actual ice dams. Heat tape is another solution that requires power to run and provides an alternative path for the water runoff, avoiding potential problem areas. In other circumstances the solution involves attic insulation and creating temperatures in the roof that prevent ice dams from forming.

Speak to your roofing contractor about how this problem can be avoided. More permanent solutions may need to wait until next year, but immediate repairs may help to lessen the amount of damage incurred.

Condensation in the Attic

Many homeowners automatically assume that ice dams are the cause of water staining in their ceiling and attic. But in fact improper distribution of insulation can often result in high levels of condensation in the attic. Staining, mold and decay are the natural result of this moist condition.

Be sure that every surface in your attic is well covered with insulation. This includes the access hatch or door, which is often neglected and can quickly become a source of trouble. Leaving the drywall separating your top floor ceiling with the attic floor bare allows massive amounts of condensation to form on that drywall and on the wood and plaster surrounding it. Large portions of your attic could be subject to damage and dangerous mold conditions, even without the moisture often present with ice damming.

Improperly routed vents can also contribute to this condition. If your heating vents, bathroom or kitchen vents are directed to the attic, instead of being routed outside of the home, this can cause a major build up of moisture in a small area. That condensation will become a breeding ground for mold and slowly destroy the wood and organic material in the area. Rerouting the vents and making sure the insulation is spread properly are the only ways to prevent this problem.

Installing a New Roof In the Winter

Homeowners wonder whether a new roof could possibly be installed in the winter. It does depend on where you live and the climate of that area during the winter months. The three main problems with winter roof installations are:

  • Overall temperatures - shingles and other roofing materials may not set properly in cold and very cold temperatures.
  • Wind - high speeds and forces of wind can easily rip off newly installed shingles.
  • Dangerous Conditions - wet and icy surfaces make your roof a very dangerous place to work during the winter.

If at all possible roofers tend to avoid installing roofs over the winter season. If major damage has occurred and your shingles or roofing material needs to be replaced immediately, a list of precautions come into play. The roofers cannot work during snow, sleet or periods of high winds, or in any other conditions where they are at high risk of injury.

You will very likely loose a selection of shingles due to windy conditions and temperatures too low to allow for an effective seal. With heavier architectural shingles and nailed shakes this may not be a problem, but typical three-tab shingles often fly off in average wind if they have not sealed well. Asphalt shingles need a certain temperature (not often reached in the winter months) to seal.

Be prepared to pay a premium price for winter roof installation. If you can wait until the springtime, that's likely a wise idea. But if damaged shingles are causing an issue on your roof you may have no choice. Be sure you understand the limitations this season presents.

Ice dams and attic condensation are common roofing concerns in the winter. Repairs are dependent on what the problem is and how far it has spread. Reroofing is a dangerous and expensive procedure during the winter months. Waiting for spring is usually a better idea, whenever possible.

Posted by: diana
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