The latest winter storm to grip the region has residents once again shoveling out their cars, driveways and sidewalks. They may also want to take a look upward to inspect the roof.
This year’s wintry mix of snow, sleet, rain and ice is not only troublesome for driving conditions but can also cause serious damage to roofs.
“With everything freezing, it just creates damage to your roof,” said Bill McNish of Pottstown’s Pace Roofing Supply.
Ice dams are a common roof problem during the winter.
Ice dams happen as snow melts then refreezes, causing ice to build up in gutters, said Dave Enriquez, estimator at Ram Siding Co. in Douglassville.
With an ice dam, additional snow and ice on the roof will melt but the water coming down has nowhere to go, Enriquez said.
After the water freezes in the gutter, the ice expands, causing a blockage, which can sometimes break the seal between the drain pipe and the gutter, McNish added.
Ice dams can also cause water to go under the roof’s shingles when snow melts, leading to leaks, according to Cheryl Whitcombe of Berkshire Insurance Services.
Whitcombe said there are steps people can take to prevent ice dams. She said homeowners can use a roof rake to clear the snow and keep gutters clear.
Although clearing your roof of snow may prevent ice dams, McNish warned that when homeowners attempt to do it themselves they can cause more damage.
“Don’t do it,” McNish said.
He said if you don’t get a professional to clear the roof, homeowners should just wait until the weather warms up and inspect the roof for damages.
Roofing Specialist Ken Frymoyer of Mast Roofing & Construction in Oley cautioned people who try to remove snow themselves.
“If you try and tackle this on your own, be very careful and remember that gravity will eventually take over,” he said.
Frymoyer also said that roof rakes can damage shingles and “shorten the life expectancy of your roofing system.”
Unfortunately, it’s not as easy to clear flat roofs as it is to clear sloped roofs.
“Flat roofs are the worst,” said Dave Derito, owner of D&D Handyman Services in Pottstown.
Derito advised homeowners to shovel snow off their flat roof when they get a chance or call a professional to do it. He said if a roof has a foot of heavy, wet snow on it then it needs to be cleared as soon as possible.
Flat roofs aren’t the only type of roofs susceptible to winter elements. Homeowners with older roofs, no matter if they’re flat or sloped, are at risk of their roof collapsing.
Derito said an older home on High Street in Pottstown just recently had a roof collapse.
Frymoyer said the older a roof is, the more susceptible it is to high winds. Forecasters have predicted heavy wind gusts with the latest storm headed this way.
“The older a roofing system gets, the more brittle the shingles will get and it’s more likely they will blow off in heavy winds,” Frymoyer said.
Whitcombe said insurance shouldn’t be looked at as a maintenance policy and that homeowners should do all they can do to avoid damage.
“It’s homeowners’ responsibility to prevent any further damage to the best of their ability,” she said.
Whitcombe added that depending on which insurance homeowners have, they can be financially responsible for the roof destruction caused by winter storms. She said cheaper insurance may include a lot of exclusions when it comes to damages that are covered.
“Every insurance company is different,” Whitcombe said, adding that homeowners need to know completely what their policy states.
McNish said with another winter storm affecting the area, there’s not much homeowners can do to prevent damage. But he added that homeowners should inspect for damage as soon as possible and get impairments fixed immediately.
Original News Source: http://www.thereporteronline.com/business/20140213/homeowners-warned-to-inspect-for-roof-damage-after-winter-storm