Have you ever experienced a roof leak in the dead of winter? This unfortunate and sometimes costly experience is a severe nuisance. I couldn’t tell you how many times I’ve been asked… “How is my roof leaking? It’s snowing not raining?”
There are a few reasons why a roof can leak in winter. Mainly a roof will leak in winter when an ice damn forms. Ice damns start and grow for the following reasons:
- Heat loss / poorly ventilated attic / roof deck
- Clogged eaves troughs / gutter / downpipes
- Extreme weather changes
The main culprit is heat loss and or poor ventilation of the roof. The ice damn will start at the eave or gutter. Generally what happens here is that heat loss, due to an insufficient amount of insulation, warms the underside of the roof deck and melts the snow that has accumulated on the roof deck. The melted snow travels down slope were it re-freezes when it gets to the overhang or soffit of the home. It re-freezes as ice since the soffit is exterior and is of ambient temperature. If the situation continues, more and more ice will build eventually pushing back and upward under the shingles. At this point, the heat loss thaws the ice and water starts to migrate to the interior of your home. If the gutters and or downpipes are clogged with debris and ice, the melt water cannot drain away freely. What can further accelerate an ice damn are extreme temperature changes. Constant freeze thaw cycles can turn mild ice build up into huge insurance claims.
Battling with old man winter and ice damns
Simple maintenance can serve as huge advantage when preparing for winter. Below are the best ways to defend against ice damns and possible damages to your home:
- Always ensure that your gutters and downpipes are clear and free flowing
- Consult a professional to ensure that your roof is properly insulated and ventilated
- When re roofing, use ice and water membranes with drip edges at all eave areas
With the above mentioned maintenance and service, you will have the best defence against ice damns.
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