how winter weather can damage your roof

The Pittsburgh winter season can be as rough on your roof as it is on our roads. The constant weather changes can lead to roof damage. Here are some common Pittsburgh winter issues that cause havoc on your roof and what you need to look for.

Strong Winds

With the seasonal weather changes come strong winds. Winds can cause various issues to your roof. Some of the common damages that occur from wind damage include:

  • Lifting shingles: wind commonly loosens shingles by lifting the edges and eventually leads to the shingle falling off. Look for lifted or loose shingles after a storm.
  • Loosening fasteners: high winds can loosen the nails and screws holding the materials in place. This may cause a shingle to become dislodged or fly off completely.
  • Breaking or cracking materials: Intense wind pressure causes your roofing materials to crack and break. Brittle or damaged materials will be more susceptible.
  • Impacts from flying debris: strong winds can cause branches and other materials to fly against your roof. The impacts of this debris can cause dents, punctures, or other damage to roofing materials.
  • Damage to gutters and eaves: high winds can also damage your gutters, downspouts, and eaves. Loose or damaged gutters can dislodge from the roof. Strong gusts can also lift eaves, and sometimes collapse them.

Ice Dams

Ice dams form when the snow on your roof begins melting and then refreezes again with the cooler air. The eaves of your roof are often cooler than the inner parts of the roof. When the ice freezes on the eaves, there is no escape from accumulating and melting snow, which then refreezes. Here are some things to watch for after a storm:

  • Water leakage: When the melting snow has nowhere to run, it begins to leak into your roof from under your shingles.
  • Roof damage: The weight of the ice dam along with the melting snow conditions places a lot of stress on the roof structure. This can cause partial sagging or even collapse in extreme cases.
  • Gutter damage: Ice dams can also damage your gutters and downspouts. As ice fills the spouts, it can cause them to pull away from the roofline or detach altogether. Water expanding and contracting in downspouts can cause leaks from cracks, which is a common problem.
  • Fascia and Soffit damage: ice dams can cause water to pool in the fascia board and soffit. Over time, these will rot from the laying water and will need to be repaired or replaced.
  • Icicle formation: the built-up ice can lead to icicles forming. These icicles pose a risk to people below them as they can fall and seriously hurt someone.

Freezing Rain

The freezing rain that hits our homes causes damage to the shingles. Just as the ice covers ground surfaces, it also covers your roof in slick ice. The weight of the ice is also of concern. Here are some ways freezing rain creates problems with your roof:

  • Ice accumulation: when freezing rain comes into contact with the cold roof surface, it creates a layer of ice. This ice can create significant weight on the roof, especially if it builds up over time. Depending on the severity, the ice can be heavy enough to create structural damage to your roof.
  • Ice dam formation: freezing rain can contribute to forming ice dams along your roof’s edge. This formation of ice can cause issues to your shingle, gutters, flashing, and more.
  • Gutter and downspout damage: As water freezes inside your gutters and downspouts, it begins freezing, blocking water from exiting. The weight of the ice can cause your gutters to sag or detach from your home leading to potential issues with your roof.
  • Expansion and contraction: happens when ice and water under your roofing materials repeatedly freeze and thaw.
  • Freezing rain with wind can push water into gaps in the roof, causing water infiltration.

Hail Storms

Hail storms are a common occurrence with the change of weather. These storms can cause damage to your roof, especially if the storm is severe or the hail is large in size. Hail can puncture shingles and other roofing materials. Here are some roof issues that can occur:

  • Impact damage: we all know that hail can vary in size, and some being large, will cause impact damage to your roof.
  • Granule loss: hail stones can knock off the protective granules that are on asphalt shingles. These serve to protect your shingles from UV radiation and weathering. When these granules fall off- they expose the asphalt shingle underneath, causing premature degradation of the shingles.
  • Cracked or broken shingles: hail stones also can break or shatter shingles on impact. This exposes the integrity of the shingles, leading to moisture infiltration and water damage.
  • Loosened flashing: flashing is the metal or other materials used to seal joints and edges of your roof. Flashing is often used around chimneys, skylights, and vents. Damage to the flashing will cause water to leak in, causing water damage.
  • Gutter and downspout damage: large hail can damage and dent downspouts, especially if they are metal. This can lead to potential issues with water properly draining from your roof.

Excessive Snow Loads

Snow may look nice from afar, but its sheer weight alone can cause damage to your roof. Snow leaks can occur from excessive snow loads. Always ensure safety first. Avoid climbing on your roof it is slippery.

  • Address immediate needs: If you begin seeing leaks in your home, you will know that your roof needs cleaned—place buckets to get current leaks and assess your issue.
  • If you can safely access the roof: use a snow rake or a snow shovel with a long handle to remove the snow you can. Work from the edge of the roof and make sure to rake in a downward pattern.
  • Avoid damaging your roof: to avoid causing more damage to your roof. Be sure to avoid sharp tools that can cause punctures, cracks, or other damage.
  • After the snow is removed or melted: check for cracked or broken shingles, loose flashing, or water stains on the ceiling.

Common Types of Damage to Look For After Winter

After the snow melts, you may notice leaks coming from outside. Ensure to check your chimney flashing, piping, and shingles for physical damage. Check the shingles for damage and lifting. Ensure you don’t have access to snow and ice accumulation on your roof.

Winter Roof Inspection

Schultheis Brothers offers an after-winter roof inspection. If you suspect this winter damaged your roof, call us today. Our licensed technician will inspect your roof, assess the damage, and provide realistic solutions before suggesting a roof replacement.