Keep an eye on roof con­di­tions this win­ter

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Did you know a snow-cov­ered roof is a good thing?

Af­ter a snow fall, go out­side and take a look at your roof. Do you see any bare patches where snow has melted? That’s a sign you don’t have enough in­su­la­tion in your at­tic, which means heat is es­cap­ing out of the home. It could also be due to poor at­tic ven­ti­la­tion. That’s not a good thing for your home’s en­ergy ef­fi­ciency, and it’s not a good thing for your roof, ei­ther.

See­ing some melted snow around your ex­haust and vent­ing is nat­u­ral; it’s those bare spots in the mid­dle or within a few feet of the roof edge that you re­ally want to watch for.

Hav­ing a lit­tle snow on your roof isn’t cause for con­cern, and even if you get hit by a heavy snow­fall, ex­cept in per­haps some ex­treme cases, it’s most likely still not a prob­lem. Roof struc­tures are de­signed and built to with­stand the weight of snow loads.

If, how­ever, you’re still wor­ried about the ex­tra weight, I would call in a pro­fes­sional to re­move it. While some home­own­ers opt to do it on their own, climb­ing onto your roof is a haz­ard in the clear­est of con­di­tions, let alone dur­ing the win­ter when it’s cov­ered in snow and ice.

OK, so what if you shovel it off from the ground? That’s fine, right? Not quite — you could dam­age your shin­gles. As well, if you’re not care­ful, the snow could come down on top of you!

If you ab­so­lutely have to do it your­self, know the risks. But me, I’d call a pro.


So you’ve looked at your roof and found some bare spots that shouldn’t be there. Is it re­ally such a big deal?

When the snow on your roof melts, the wa­ter has to go some­where. Usu­ally, it will trickle down to a cold spot on your roof and re­freeze, which cre­ates an ice dam and forms large ici­cles. This starts a cy­cle that blocks wa­ter from drain­ing off the roof. As wa­ter gets blocked from flow­ing down, it goes back­wards, get­ting un­der your shin­gles and even­tu­ally into your at­tic and walls.

Ice dams can cause a lot of dam­age through­out your home. It can even travel through your ex­te­rior wall cav­ity and find its way into your base­ment! It might not seem ob­vi­ous, but wa­ter in your base­ment may be due to in­suf­fi­cient roof in­su­la­tion and ven­ti­la­tion.

An­other con­tribut­ing cause of ice damming is clogged eaves troughs. Backed-up wa­ter and de­bris can freeze, pre­vent­ing wa­ter from drain­ing. When the ice spills over top of your eaves, you’ll get those beau­ti­ful ici­cles. Beau­ti­ful, yes, but dan­ger­ous! If you haven’t al­ready done so, make sure to clear those gut­ters out one fi­nal time this sea­son!


Ul­ti­mately, roof­ing pro­fes­sion­als need to be safe — and dur­ing the win­ter when con­di­tions are worse, it’s more dan­ger­ous for a roofer to climb all over your roof. That said, if you have an is­sue with your roof, such as a leak, you shouldn’t wait for spring to deal with the is­sue.

That said, a to­tal re-roof dur­ing the win­ter is an un­re­al­is­tic so­lu­tion. You want to place a new roof in the best of con­di­tions: when it’s dry and warm enough for your shin­gles to ad­here prop­erly.

For roof emer­gen­cies dur­ing the win­ter, your roofer should be able to set you up with a tem­po­rary so­lu­tion to get you through un­til the spring.

While it’s a lit­tle late in the sea­son to in­stall a new roof be­fore win­ter re­ally kicks into high gear, if you know your roof has some trou­ble spots or is on its last legs, start mak­ing calls to roof­ing ex­perts in your neigh­bour­hood now. Even if they can’t do a re­place­ment right away, give them a call so that when spring does hit, you’ll be first on their list to get a new roof.

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