Common winter roofing issues

Common winter roofing issues

Chicago winter weather conditions can cause serious wear and tear on your house, especially your roof. The accumulation of snow and ice and the subsequent fluctuation of winter temperatures can lead to leaks, mold growth and structural deterioration. Here are three common winter roofing issues you should be aware as the weather gets colder:

Ice dams. Likely one of the most common problems you will face this winter, an ice dam is the accumulation of ice and water on the roof and under the shingles.

According to the University of Minnesota Extension, ice dams form when the upper areas of a roof have an average temperature higher than 32 degrees Fahrenheit while the low-hanging areas maintain an average below 32 degrees. When the warmer water flowing down the roof reaches the freezing surface below, it refreezes, causing the dam to form. Seeking a release, the water backed up behind the ice dam seeps into cracks in the home’s exterior, leading to structural damage and mold growth.

Unfortunately, ice dams are a result of several factors: inadequate insulation, poor ventilation and a combination of cold temperatures and sunny days. You can prevent ice dams by installing an attic ventilation system, and increasing roof insulation by sealing leaks between the attic and roof. You can also reduce the chances of dams by removing snow as it falls with a rake or broom. However, climbing on a roof during the winter is extremely dangerous and the job might be better suited for a professional roofing contractor.

Icicles. Much like ice dams, when winter precipitation falls onto a warm roof, it can melt. If the temperatures are cold enough the melted water will refreeze as it falls off the roof, forming icicles. Icicles are dangerous, because they can fall and injure people, pets and personal property, and they can damage your roof because of their weight.

In order to deter icicles from forming, clean out gutters during the fall, and sweep the snow off your roof and from your gutters.

Condensation. When the warm air connects with a cold surface, condensation will ensue. Condensation can create mold and mildew which will damage the interior structure of your home. To prevent condensation, install a vapor retarder or a ventilation system to improve air flow.

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