Emergency Winter Roof Repair - How to Identify and Prevent It

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Emergency Winter Roof Repair - How to Identify and Prevent It

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The winter months can bring many hardships and potential damages to your roofing system. It is important to understand what roofing emergencies can happen, what you need to do in such situations, and preventative measures you can take to keep these situations from happening. Should you experience, or be concerned with any of the following, please reach out to a roofing specialist. Kirberg Company has an emergency roof repair service available 24/7 at 1-866-547-2374 as well as almost a century of experience with both commercial and residential properties.

What Qualifies as a Roofing Emergency?

  • Roof collapse or cave-ins

  • Major leaks

  • Severe ice buildup and icicles

  • Other potentially hazardous situations

How to Prevent a Roof from Collapsing or Caving-in

Roofs can collapse for different reasons; too much snow or ice is allowed to build up, damage from a winter storm, preexisting damage which was undiscovered, or a combination of the above. This can cause severe damage to the home or building and be very dangerous for those inside of it.

It is important you have the roofing system inspected after severe storms, and reach out to a professional roofing contractor should you see any signs of damage or if you are unable to properly survey the roof. Damaged roofs will be in danger of collapsing at much lower weight ratios than a roof in good condition.

Snow and ice buildup on your roof can be very dangerous. It ranges from region and roof type, but most roofs can support around 20 pounds per square foot of snow and ice before they start to become stressed. In some areas which are accustomed to severe snow, the snow load used in home and building design may be significantly higher allowing the roofing system to support more weight. Low slope and flat roofs are at a higher risk than steeper roofs, and should be watched more closely.

It is important to understand the weight of snow and ice so you can more clearly evaluate how at risk your roof is:

Fresh Snow: 10 to 12 inches of fresh snow (equal to one inch of water) weighs approximately 5 pounds per square foot of roof space. Depending on your roof, you are okay with up to 4 feet of fresh snow.

Packed Snow: 3 to 5 inches of packed snow (equal to one inch of water) weighs approximately 5 pounds per square foot of roof space. Depending on your roof, you should not allow more than 2 feet of packed snow.

Combined Weight: Be sure to lookout for buildup of both fresh snow and packed snow to calculate accurately. 2 feet of fresh snow and 2 feet of packed snow could weigh as much as 60 pounds per square foot of roof space. This is well beyond the average safe limit and you should contact a roofing professional.

Ice: 1 inch of ice equals 1 foot of fresh snow. If your roof has a thick layer of ice under the snow, be sure to take this into account.

During months of heavy snowfall it is important to continuously remove snow from your roof as it builds up. Depending on the height of the home or building, you could use a snow rake with a long arm extension to allow yourself to remove the snow from the ground. You should not remove the snow while on top of the roof as this is very dangerous. There is often an unexpected layer of ice under the snow which can cause you to slip or you could slide with the snow as it falls. If the snow has built up to a dangerous level, or if your building is too tall to remove the snow yourself, you should contact a professional roofing contractor to remove the snow for you.

Monitoring your roof throughout the winter and after storms, removing built-up snow,  regular inspections and maintenance will help prevent your roof from collapsing or caving-in during the winter.

Major Roofing Leaks

Roofing systems are at increased risk for major leaks when temperatures fluctuate below and above freezing as well as when the snow begins melting. This is because water can seep into any cracks or areas of damage on the roof and freeze. When freezing, the water expands worsening the crack or other form of damage. Once the snow and ice begins to melt, you may start to see severe leaking and even flooding.

Be on the lookout for any signs of leaking. Water damage on the ceiling, dampness, or signs of mold are all identifiers of a potential leak. If you have an attic or upper level, be sure to inspect it several times throughout the winter to be sure no leaking has started. The sooner a leak can be identified and repaired, the less damage it will cause and the less it will cost you.

It is important to have regular roof inspections and keep up with roof maintenance to ensure major leaking does not occur throughout the winter. Once it does start, contact a roofing professional as soon as possible to have it repaired.

Severe Ice Buildup and Icicles

When temperatures fluctuate above and below freezing, ice can build up quickly if the water  does not drain properly. Clogged gutters or snow buildup can cause water to backup then freeze. If the temperature warms up enough for snow to melt and drops below freezing, the water can freeze as it falls off the roof causing icicles.

Ice buildup can work as a dam causing water to backup and seep into the roof as well as the buildings exterior. This can lead to a major leak in your roofing system and costly home repairs. It is important to clean out any leaves or debris in your gutters and drains to allow the water to drain properly. Also, throughout the winter be sure to remove built up snow and ice from the gutters and downspouts as this can cause improper drainage as well.

If allowed to build up, this ice can lead to damage to both the downspouts and gutters and cause them to split or become dislodged. Falling ice sheets and icicles are also very dangerous and lead to hundreds of deaths a year worldwide. This danger can be avoided with proper maintenance, preventing the ice from building up, and installing snow guards.

Snow guards can be installed as a preventative measure to help keep ice and snow from suddenly falling in large clumps as well as assist in proper draining. These guards break up the snow and ice, allowing it to fall in smaller amounts. These are typically installed on roof systems which may heat up more quickly (metal, tile, and slate roofs). This is because the warmer temperature on the roof compared to the top can lead to the bottom pile of snow to melt more quickly and cause the snow and ice to slide off together in large amounts.

Other Hazardous Situations

There may be other hazardous situations or signs of damage not mentioned in this article. If you have concerns about your roof or have questions regarding proper roofing system maintenance, contact a professional roofing contractor. It is important to keep up-to-date with your roofs maintenance to avoid hazardous and costly situations.

Professional Roofing Contractor with Nearly 100 Years of Experience

Kirberg Company has almost 100 years of roofing experience nationwide. Contact us 24/7 at 1-866-547-2374 to complete emergency roof repairs. We provide roof snow removal, as well as roof inspections and maintenance.

Topics: emergency, winter, weather, Roofing Safety, Roof Maintenance, Roofing Tips, Commercial