Winter weather is upon us in the Pittsburgh region, and if there is one thing you want to be sure to depend on, it’s a warm, cozy home. When you’ve braved the elements sprinting from your car to the front door, you fancy nothing more than hot cocoa or coffee and the opportunity to relax on the sofa in front of your TV.
Unfortunately, our homes don’t look after themselves. Changes in weather conditions, age, and general wear and tear will eventually set roof problems into motion throughout the year. In winter, however, when the conditions are more severe, your home might be at risk from a variety of even more difficult roof issues.
The best line of attack is to ensure your roof does its job and does it well, and the likelihood of remaining warm and cozy rests upon preventative care.
Determining how to recognize winter roofing issues is crucial to prevention. Unfortunately, a healthy number of property owners are not aware of the signs that would point to a problem.
Okay, how do I know I have problems? According to our roofing experts here at Pittsburgh-based Schultheis Brothers, there are certain signs you should look for if you’re worried that your roof has been adversely impacted by winter weather:
- New leaks inside your home that appear to be stemming from the roof or attic
- Doors that all of a sudden become more difficult to open (jammed), perhaps as a result of the additional load your roof is enduring with large amounts of snow and ice.
- Cracks in drywall or plaster are again the result of the extra weight of snow and ice on your roof.
- Sagging on the roof’s ridge line (where two sides of a sloped roof meet.)
Remember that the earlier you spot a problem, the easier it will be to fix it.
Not sure how your roofing is handling the winter weather? Contact the professionals at Schultheis Brothers today!
Our dedicated team of roofing experts will be happy to help you with your roof’s potential problems and suggest the appropriate preventative measures.
In the meantime, here are some would-be roofing issues homeowners may encounter in the winter, again, consistent with our professionals’ estimations here at Schultheis Brothers Heating, Cooling, and Roofing.
Since we covered this particular winter roofing issue in our most recent blog, we’re only going to go over it here briefly. Recall that ice dams take place when heat escaping from the attic exists only at the top portion rather than the entire roof. When this happens, snow melts but then freezes as it reaches the edge of the roof, forming an ice dam.
Preventing ice dams is a matter of ventilating the roof and increasing insulation to prevent the upper portions of the roof from getting too warm. Please refer to our most recent blog for details.
Icicles are also basically formed by sunny days and sub-freezing temperatures. They may look cool when they appear on your roof’s edge, but they can pose a real danger to you and your home. Melted water can seep through your shingles, damaging your roofing materials or causing a leak. Icicles also place excess weight and stress on your gutter system, which can end up buckling, cracking, or even tearing away from the house.
To remove icicles, you can gently scrape them away with a wheeled rake, but give yourself enough clearance so they don’t fall on you. Another way of dealing with them is applying the heat tape to your gutters, but you’ll have to do this before a cold snap hits.
To discourage icicles from forming in the first place, keep your gutters clear of leaves, needles, and other such debris. When the warmer weather arrives, attend to gutter maintenance swiftly to avoid leaking and other problems during spring rains.
Snow might appear light and fluffy, but when it builds up on your roof, it carries enormous weight. For weakened or leaking roofs, heavy snow puts a home at risk of significant damage.
To keep your roof secure throughout winter, it’s best to remove heavy snow as soon as possible. Often, homeowners can remove rooftop snow utilizing a tool such as a long-handled rake. If you take this line of attack, be sure you select a device that won’t damage your shingles and be especially alert not to pull a load of heavy snow down on yourself. Use caution using ladders, as they will be slicker than usual, and NEVER CLIMB ON YOUR ROOF TO REMOVE SNOW.
Condensation as a consequence of insufficient ventilation is one of the more familiar winter roofing issues that go unrecognized by homeowners. The difficulty is that if your attic is too warm, incoming cold air from the vents will intermingle with the warmer air, resulting in condensation and moisture buildup. This moisture can build on trusses and ceiling joints and trigger mold, mildew, and rot, possibly causing severe damage and unwanted repairs.
Unfortunately, an inadequately insulated attic is a leading contender for condensation. The most efficient method to avoid roof condensation is to add ventilation by installing ridge and soffit vents. Boosting air circulation in your attic is the leading way to stop condensation from arising on the underside of your roof and accumulating in your attic. There are several online tools to help you estimate how much ventilation you require based on your specific attic space.
If you have a sloped roof, like most of us do, you are probably familiar with leaky flashing. Flashings are those metal strips placed along the front edge, corners, and ridges of your roof and around the chimney and skylights. They are extremely critical elements of your roofing system, responsible for safeguarding some of the more susceptible areas, but can also be open to damage themselves, particularly in winter. If improperly installed in the first place or as a result of a violent storm, they can begin to detach from your roofing material and result in water leaks.
Flashing leaks are more common in the winter due to the freeze-thaw process. Flashing is also exposed when age-related rust sets in. Avoiding flashing leaks during the winter involves examining and making necessary repairs before the ice and wind turn up.
When inspecting your flashing, you should check both inside and outside your home.
- Pay special attention to where water damage is detected. If you spot it inside your attic, near a valley, vent, or chimney, damaged flashings may be to blame.
- Take a stroll around your home and, as long as it’s safe to do so, dig out a ladder to make a closer inspection of your flashings and make sure everything remains flush against the roof.
If you have plenty of trees on your property, you’ve been blessed with stunning, year-round scenery. But, of course, this also means you share in some of the dangers large trees can inflict.
From time to time, overhanging trees can scratch the surface of your roof and harm its protective top layer. And should branches end up dropping onto your roof, that, too, can trigger roofing issues. So, to best safeguard your home and family, be sure to prune any branches approaching within 6 feet of your roof. This will also assist in keeping the critters from scurrying across the roof and attempting to enter the roof for the spring nesting season.
Squirrels and rats
Speaking of critters, a less clear winter roofing issue can be found in squirrels and rats looking for a way in. With simply a small gap in any area of the roof, it’s an open invitation for these critters to make themselves a home. If a gap is present but not big enough for entry, squirrels, and rats will have no problem gnawing away until they gain get in.
Keeping critters out of attic spaces necessitates examining the roof and sealing up all potential entry points.
If you do have unwelcome animals in your home, you’ll probably discover them in your attic.
Perform an inspection and watch for:
- Signs that animals have been burrowing or making homes.
- Wood that seems to have been chewed.
- Food waste and other litter.
- Holes through which critters may have been able to enter.
If you find any signs of animal goings-on, you need to make sure they’re gone before you plug in any holes so they don’t become stuck inside and continue to instigate more damage. Be especially attentive in the spring as well. Since it’s nesting season, animals are all too anxious to cash in on any vulnerabilities in your roof with the purpose of turning your house into an abode for themselves and their expanding families.
Although we might connect winter weather with snow and ice, strong winds are also normal due to high-temperature gradients and cold fronts traveling in from polar regions.
Clearly, there’s nothing anyone can do to elude strong winds, but it’s still essential to carefully check your roof after a severe weather event occurs.
If you find areas where shingles have bent back or even been completely removed, call the roofing specialists at Schultheis Brothers for a roof inspection. They will look for signs of storm damage, report what might need to be replaced, and provide a competitive price estimate.
How can I avoid wintertime roof problems?
The aim of a roof ventilation system is pretty straightforward – to control airflow and temperatures inside your attic and ensure that, particularly during the colder winter months, you don’t have a surplus of warm air coming into contact with a cold roof.
The usual rule of thumb consistent with roofing experts and building codes is one square foot of attic ventilation for each 200 square feet of attic space. The precise ratio, however, will depend on your roof structure and local climate.
Along with ventilation, attic insulation occupies a significant position in controlling temperatures. Although roll insulation was usually the most common type of insulation available, in recent years, homeowners have converted to blown-in insulation because it is, rather honestly, a better product, more capable of getting into tighter cracks and crevices, guaranteeing a more air-tight seal.
You can break inspection into two types: preventative and reactive.
- We suggest homeowners carry out routine inspections of their homes (roofs included) one to two times a year. This should allow you to detect would-be problems early on and correct them before they grow to be major headaches down the road.
- Beyond these regular checks, it’s crucial to check your roof if you suspect it has incurred damage, such as after a bad wind or ice storm.
Remember to keep your personal safety first and foremost. Always wait until severe weather has passed before any inspection, and be especially cautious of possibly slick surfaces. If you need to get on top of your roof for a more thorough examination, get in touch with the experienced roof professionals at Schultheis Brothers.
Contact the roofing specialists at Schultheis Brothers
If you notice any of these issues present on your roof this winter, the experts at Schultheis Brothers Heating, Cooling & Roofing can help you fix them. We are a professional roofing company with years of experience in repairing Pittsburgh roofs all winter long.