Snow on your roof: signs you should never ignore
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Snow on your roof: signs you should never ignore

Ottawa homeowners are more than familiar with snow in the winter, lots of snow! Regardless of whether you have a flat or sloped roof, it is important to keep an eye on excess snow and ice accumulation that can cause serious damage to your home. (By the way, if you are looking for fun activities to do this Winter, I got you! Here are a few ones)

We often think of wet snow as being the heaviest but even the fluffiest drifts can add up to significant weight on your roof. The extra burden from snow build-up can cause both cosmetic and structural damage to your home. Falling snow and ice also pose a safety risk to anyone on your property.

There are some common clues to look for when it comes to snow and ice build-up that is too heavy for your house to withstand. Here are the signs of snow on your roof you should never ignore.

Ceiling damage

Too much snow on your roof can cause the frame of your house to shift. Minor shifts in the angles of your walls will not be visible to the naked eye, but your ceiling will often show signs of damage. If left too long, the structural damage to your house supports can worsen and you might need to seek the advice of an engineer to assess the safety of your home.

Tell-tale signs of ceiling damage due to excess weight on your roof during the winter include:

●      Creaking sounds, particularly during high winds

●      Leaking and water damage marks

●      Sagging

●      Falling stipple or other ceiling finishes

●      Cracked ceiling paint

●      Stained, damp or warped ceiling tiles

Sticky doors and windows

It’s common for doors and windows to be a bit “sticky” and harder to open during the humid summer due to the fact that wood soaks up moisture and swells a bit. In the wintertime, however, when conditions are typically dryer inside the house, all doors and windows should be able to open and close with ease.

If your doors and windows are jammed and unable to open, it could be a sign that your house frame has shifted due to excess weight on the roof. Check for ice and snow build-up and remove immediately.

Roof damage

You might not notice damage to your roof until the spring thaw when your roof is completely clear of all snow and ice. Even small amounts of snow and ice can cause damage to your roof due to the expanding water during the numerous freeze/thaw cycles throughout the winter.

Signs of winter damage to your roof can include:

●      Damaged or missing metal flashing

●      Warped facia

●      Loose or missing shingles

●      Cracked or missing sections of caulking in seams

●      Bulging or loose eavestroughs and downspouts

Cracked or warping walls

If you notice new or growing cracks on the surface of your walls, it could be a sign of too much ice or snow on your roof. Walls can also start to bulge in or bend out due to the excess weight. In extreme situations, too much snow build-up on your roof can cause enough structural damage to make your home unsafe.

Icicles and Ice Dams

Snow build-up on your roof adds a layer of insulation that can cause extra moisture to form in your attic if there is insufficient venting and air circulation. When your indoor heat escapes through the edges of your house (inevitable in most houses) it melts the snow and then the water refreezes as icicles and ice dams.

Both forms of ice build up should be carefully removed from your eavestroughs, gutters, and shingles to avoid interior water damage caused by leaking. If left too long, the icicles and ice dams can even become heavy enough to pull off your eavestroughs, downspouts and shingles.

Be diligent about snow removal on your roof

In order to avoid any of these common problems caused by excess weight on your roof during the winter, homeowners should be diligent about removing snow and ice from their roof once it starts to accumulate.

Sometimes just loosening the snow that you can reach with a shovel or broom is enough to relieve some of the weight, but be cautious of making the snow or ice pack loose enough to come tumbling down all at once. Of course if you feel unsafe when trying to remove snow from your roof, always call in a professional to do the job safely.

Happy winter!

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