Inspecting Your Roof After a Harsh Canadian Winter

The snows have abated and the ice has retreated. With another Canadian winter under your belt the next step will be to inspect your property and assess how well it stood up to the inclement weather.

One of the things that should be at the top of your list, once it is safe to do so, is to inspect your roof and eavestroughs – after all, another harsh Canadian winter will be here before you know it.

Roof Damage Caused By A Blustery Winter

There are a number of ways an inhospitable winter can take a toll on your roof. One of the most common is by the formation of ice dams. Ice dams occur when accumulated snow on your roof repeatedly thaws and refreezes. Eventually the ice will become thicker and thicker, preventing proper drainage of subsequent snow melts, which can result in an increase in the number of leaks, you may have.

Leaks can manifest in a number of ways and, by and large, you should be able to notice them by inspecting your ceilings. Discoloration, cracks, and bubbling (the paint appears as though there is air beneath it) are all visual evidence of a potentially leaking roof.

If applicable, you should also take a look at your attic’s insulation. Look for damp patches and discoloration that would indicate water saturation. Be aware however that there are many routes that water can take when permeating your home, meaning that just because you don’t notice any water leaking into your attic, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a leak that needs to be addressed.

How To Prevent An Ice Dam

There are two effective ways to prevent an ice dam from occurring. The first is by properly insulating your attic with insulation that is rated for the climate you live in. This will greatly reduce the amount of heat that is lost through your roof, thereby reducing the amount of snow that melts.

The second way to proactively avoid ice dams is by removing debris (branches, leaves, etc.) from your eavestroughs. If the snowmelt can’t be efficiently evacuated from your roof because your gutters are clogged, chances are good that come spring you’ll have some kind of water damage to deal with.

Note: Clearing your gutters of debris can be a physically demanding job. If you are unable to complete this task on your own, consider enlisting the aid of a friend, neighbour, or a roofing contractor.

Ice Formation: More Dangerous Than You Might Think

Obviously, icicle formation is incredibly dangerous for those that pass beneath; they can break off at any time, leaving you potentially liable for damage to property or worse, for an injury suffered on your property. That aside, icicle formation has the potential to seriously damage your roof.

Water that freezes is water that expands. While an icicle may at first glance appear to be harmless (in fact, most of us see icicles as an iconic part of winter instead of roof damaging elements), they are an indication of a much larger issue. Icicles are formed by the refreezing of snowmelt on the precipice of your roof. As the icicles grow longer, it is also likely spreading through your shingles, which could ultimately dislodge them.

Additionally, icicles are heavy – they have a remarkable ability of drastically reducing the lifespan of your gutter system. Like ice dams, icicle formation is largely attributable to heat loss and clogged gutters, so taking the steps mentioned above will also help to prevent the formation of icicles.

When inspecting your roof for damage caused by icicles, look for loose, cracked, or missing shingles in proximity to your gutters. You will need a ladder to properly inspect your shingles – again, if this is something that you can’t do on your own, hire someone to do it for you. By hiring a professional, you will benefit from their many years of experience.

Inspect The Flashing

If you are comfortable in getting up on your roof, you will also want to inspect the flashing. Flashing is the metal components that you will find around your chimney or skylight. They are designed to keep water from entering your home in these vulnerable areas. Like your shingle inspection, look to see if the flashing is loose or shows any other sign of damage.

Taking the time to inspect your roof can not only help you to plan any maintenance required on your roof, it will also help to increase the number of years you get out of it.

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