Roof Damage to Watch for After a Heavy Snowstorm

Residents of the Calgary area are no strangers to extreme winter weather. For those who experienced the early snowstorm of September 2014, it may have been just another part of Calgary life. Still, the storm had notable repercussions nonetheless.

The ‘Summer Snowstorm’ of 2014

Weather beforehand was pleasant and summery. The trees still had their leaves, which caused this wet and heavy overnight storm to weigh branches to the breaking point. With over 30 centimetres of snow, large power outages and damages occurred all over the city.

No matter what time of year snowstorms occur, you have to stay on your guard to prevent damage. Abrupt and heavy snowstorms cause a lot of harm to residential and commercial roofs.

Types of Damage that Can Occur

Whether you own a home or business, a heavy snowstorm presents specific dangers to your roof. Not all insurance policies cover snow-related roof repairs, so preventing them is key. We’ll first address the five most common types of resulting damage. Later, we’ll cover what steps you can take to avoid such damage.

1. Tree Damage

As shown from the September 2014 storm, tree branches can turn into a huge hazard after a heavy snowfall. If the trees still have their leaves, it makes them catch even more snow, and they end up heavier after the storm. This extra weight often causes branches to snap and fall onto things, like your car, power lines, or roof.

The last thing you want is a huge tree branch coming through your roof—this leads to expensive repairs. Keep an eye on the trees surrounding your home or business. It'll look pretty obvious when a branch could give way over your roof.

2. Compromised Roof Support

Snow can weigh a lot, especially when wet and in large quantities. Although most residential roofs sustain ice and snow, you can’t be too careful. You have to use even more caution when you own a business because flat commercial roofs are even more likely to collapse under the weight of snow and ice.

Either way, when a heavy snowstorm occurs, you should keep a lookout for a weakened roof. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a large bill and snow in your living room.

3. Moisture Seepage

After a large snowstorm, house mould might be the last thing on your mind. However, where moisture occurs, you'll find mould there too. After a heavy snowfall, your warmer roof often causes the bottom layer of snow to melt. If you have an older roof or a poor drainage system, that mound of snow could turn into a mountain of a mould problem within months.

4. Cracked Roof Surface

We’ve stated that snow often melts on your roof, but the wet layer on the bottom freezes during the night too. This repeated melting and freezing can cause cracks in the topmost layer of your roof. It only takes a slight crack to pave the way for a much bigger one. Cracks like these destroy your roof’s surface and allow mould and pests to enter.

5. Wind-Ripped Shingles

In some places like Halifax, high blizzard winds have actually ripped roof materials right off the roof. Although this doesn't happen often, it’s still possible and happens on occasion. Be aware that any item on your roof has to endure high winds during snowstorms and blizzards. Anything not securely tied down could come loose and fly off, which is dangerous as well as damaging.

Before and After the Storm: Ways to Prevent Damage

After reading about all these potential dangers and problems, you probably want some solutions. Luckily, you can do things before a storm even comes to protect your roof. And even if you’re late in the game, you can take protective steps to ensure safety after the snow has fallen.

Before the Storm

One of the best ways to maintain your roof involves ensuring annual inspections. A professional roofing company can see potential and current problems. This allows for preventative measures, immediate fixes, and minimized maintenance costs. Even if an inspection reveals few existing problems, you’ll have the peace of mind that your roof can handle anything.

Another essential protective measure to do before a snowy season involves proper tree maintenance. When planting trees, take into account their adult size and proximity to your roof. Make sure to trim and prune overhanging branches. If the branch doesn't grow over your roof, it won’t turn into a problem after a snowstorm.

After the Storm

Unless you’ve taken protective steps before the storm, your chances of waking up to some damage are likely. But you can do things after a snowfall, too. Don’t give up—just go over the following information.

How much snow has fallen? Alberta Building Code recommends snow removal from flat roofs before it exceeds 50 centimetres. These guidelines vary, but leaving a large amount of snow buildup is never a good idea.

If you worry about the weight of snow on your roof, listen for popping and snapping in the attic. Check for obvious bends in your roof joists. If you see either or both of these symptoms, your roof needs immediate snow removal.

Rely on Century Roofing in Calgary

Use these tips to protect your roof from snowstorm issues. As for mould or snow removal, contact your local Calgary roofer at Century Roofing. They’ll safely rid your roof of problematic weight without causing further damage.