In the frosty Northeast; contractors, roofers, and customers alike need to be worried about the effects of snow and ice building up on a roof.
There’s a lot of information out there to avoid some disastrous situations for homeowners, which will end up benefitting everyone in the conversation.
Let’s take a look at some of the facts and what you can do to help the situation!
The Effects of Snow and Ice:
In places like Massachusetts and New Hampshire, customers can see snowfall amounts of 4-6 feet on average each year. That’s a lot of snow and weight that can have lasting impacts on the strength or integrity of a lot of expensive roofs.
Customers who have older roofs may need extra protection to deal with all of that weight, as years and years of that snow and ice can keep having continued effects on the property.
Weight of Snow
This is the most obvious example of how a customer’s roof may be effected. The simple weight of snow (especially in larger amounts) can greatly impact the integrity of the roof involved. Any time you have weight sitting on a stationary object, there is going to be a certain amount of stress inflicted on that object.
This can cause roofs to start to sag which is going to compound the problem. When you see a sagging roof, you’ll know that things could be getting bad in an exponential way. The dip in the roof means more ice, water, and snow could be heading to that weak spot and adding even more weight to a damaged structure.
Issues with Ice
Ice is a particularly tricky substance to deal with when it comes to roofs. The biggest thing to watch out for when looking at a customer’s home is a potential build-up of any ice structures or dams that would block any other water or snow from naturally falling off or running off the roof’s structure.
Usually, when there are ice situations like this, the damage is typically less about the physical weight on the structure than it is with leaks and water damage.
Once water is getting through that roof that is supposed to be protecting a customer’s property, things can escalate quite quickly. It’s important to watch for areas where ice may be building up and causing problems and getting rid of it so that the customer’s home doesn’t get impacted farther than it needs to.
Everybody in the Northeast knows the impact that the cold winters have on the roadway system; but less people think about the other ways these freezing temperatures can effect society.
As water freezes, thaws, and freezes again, the water itself can work its way into the roofing materials like the asphalt shingles if there are any gaps at all. Therefore, it’s important to do high-quality work as customers will end up simply coming back with issues if this starts to happen. The expansion of the shingles could end up ripping from the roof and you could have a customer who has much larger gaps and cracks than they did initially.
How To Stop The Negative Effects of Snow And Ice
As a contractor in the roofing industry, you are responsible for making sure your customers have proper installation, maintenance, and inspections. Most people are not going to take an active role in this environment – they are simply going to be passive bystanders and only react when something really bad is happening.
That’s not the healthiest way to go about maintaining a roof though, so let’s take a look at all of the best practices when it comes to stopping these nasty effects of cold weather environments.
Replacing a Roof vs. Repairing a Roof:
As a roofing expert, you have the tools and the ability to assess when a customer’s roof simply needs touched up and when they will need an entire roof replacement.
You should be looking at the specific damages caused by snow and ice to make this determination as well as what could realistically happen if the weather takes a turn for the worse.
Keep in mind that effectively communicating the issues to a customer is a huge skill to have. Putting things in terms a customer will understand is extremely helpful when describing the current situation as well as the dangers that a Winter season full of snow and ice could have on a damaged roof.
When you are ready to move forward with a roof repair or a replacement, make sure that you are using materials that are appropriate for the job and the environments the roof will be in.
It’s essential in the cold environments of the Northeast like Massachusetts and New Hampshire to make sure you are doing a solid roof cleaning at the end of Fall before the snow and ice begins. Ideally, you would be pairing this with another cleaning session at the beginning of Spring once all the nasty stuff is gone.
Customers can certainly take on this task on their own, or get these roof cleaning done as a professional service. However, just the aspect of a regular cleaning alone will go a long way to making sure there are no problems starting to build up in the roofing system.
Similar to our cleaning instructions above; you want to be doing regular inspections on the roof as well. This doesn’t necessarily have to be done at a regular interval like a cleaning does, but you want to make sure that inspections are happening especially after severe weather like a huge snowstorm.
Someone who isn’t bothering to even look at their roof after a foot of snow comes down in a weekend is asking for a lot of trouble.
As contractors, it would not be a bad idea to send out communications via email or social media to check on customers well-being and to also remind customers that they always want to be aware of what’s happening with their roof after these severe events.
How Different Materials Effect Roofs in the Winter
Of course, not all roofs are built the same. Different materials will hold up better under Winter weather than others.
Let’s look at some of the pros and cons of different materials out there:
Slate is a durable roofing choice. More importantly for customers in cold climates, the shingles do a great job of insulating your house and helping to keep you warm. They’re also resistant against pesky temperature changes and should last a long time under proper supervision.
Unlike slate, a wooden roof is going to struggle in wet and cold environments. While there are many options to choose from, they will not give you a resistant material when it comes to water damage. If snow sits on a wooden roof, you’ll see warping and stress issues over time as the material weakens.
While many people have negative connotations of metal roofing, it’s becoming much popular for use in residential New England homes due to the ability it has to easily discard snow. It’s becoming more normal to have a metal roof with customers opting to use steel, aluminum, or copper for their roofs.
The most important part of keeping roofs safe from snow and ice is to regularly clean and inspect the structures. Use proper materials and be aware of severe weather events to ensure the roofs you are responsible for always stay in great condition!