Dealing With Icicles on the Roof Safely

Sub-freezing temperatures and warmer sunny periods during the day can create one of the many breath-taking sights of a winter wonderland-icicles. While these icy creations are pretty in scenic pictures and are considered a part of the winter season, they do have a darker and even dangerous side. Icicles can actually pose a real danger to people, pets, and property, especially if they are not removed the correct way. That is why we here at Stay Dry Roofing wanted to take some time to address the importance of dealing with icicles on the roof in a safe and effective manner.

Dangers icicles pose

Clogged gutters and downspouts are among of the biggest contributors to icicle formation. When the gutters cannot drain properly the water backs up and freeze into sheets and rivers of ice. Icicles on the roof will begin to form and grow. To prevent icicles from forming, keep your gutters clear of leaves, needles, and other debris. Clogged gutters will quickly accumulate ice and snow which can drastically increase the weight the gutters and eaves of our home are having to support. It is common for gutters to tear off the roof under the sheer weight of ice and snow. This can damage the roof and property around the home and can seriously injure anyone in the vicinity. When gutters are clogged you can also get ice dam formations along with icicles on the roof. “The three things necessary to form icicles — snow, heat to melt the snow and cold weather — are also needed to form ice dams… Ice dams form when warm air from inside your home melts snow on the roof. When the meltwater reaches the colder eaves (the part of the roof that extends beyond the walls), the water refreezes and creates a buildup of ice along the edge of your roofline, states the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety” (IBHS). So, icicles hanging from a roof could indicate a serious ice dam problem but it is important to remember that ice dams can form with no icicles on the roof and icicles can form even when there is no ice dam present at all.

snow ice and icicles

 

Protecting people, property, and pets

When too much ice builds up, the sheets of ice can break off, icicles can snap and fall and heavy snow drifts can fall, causing damage to people and property below. Trying to chip the ice from the gutters and trying to knock off the icicles on the roof while balancing on a ladder are both extremely dangerous and can cause even more damage and greater injury. When you have a problem with ice and snow accumulation and have icicles you need to safely remove, it’s best to enlist the support of a roofing professional. Melting snow and ice can cause water damage to your roof and attack and dripping icicles can cause water damage to your eaves and the foundation of your home. The best way to protect your home from water damage and damage caused by heavy ice and snow and the best way to protect your family and pets from the dangers of falling icicles and snow packs is to call in professional roofing help.

Thousands injured from falls off ladders

Before you clean your gutters, however, make sure you review your ladder safety notes and follow proper ladder safety measures. In the United States, falls from ladders is a leading cause of home-based injuries. “Ladder-related injuries per 100,000 people rose almost 27 percent during the 16-year study period — 97.3 percent occurred in non-occupational settings, such as homes and farms. More than 2.1 million people needed to be hospitalized, about twice the overall admission rate for consumer-product related injuries” (ISHN). If it is not worth the risk of a fall to try and get your roof and gutters cleared off. Always know your limits and if you do not feel you can do it safely and properly then wait till you are able to call in expert help to deal with ice, snow, and icicles on the roof!

Ladder Safety 101

If you do decide to get on a ladder to deal with snow and icicles on the roof then follow these basic ladder safety tips each and every time!

  • The ladder should extend at least 3 feet over the roofline to ensure you are not reaching too far back behind the center of gravity.
  • Always use a ladder on flat ground and make sure you are using leg levelers to balance the ladder when using one on soft or uneven ground.
  • Check the ladder’s maximum load rating and make sure your weight combined with any supplies you are carrying does not exceed the weight limits.
  • Straight and adjustable ladders should not be used unless they have slip-resistant feet and are in good working order.
  • Do not use a metal ladder if your roof has power lines running to it and do not use near power lines or electrical equipment; a wood or fiberglass ladders is safer.
  • Make sure to inspect the ladder before using it and make sure all rungs, locks, and spreader braces are in good order and properly engaged before getting on the ladder.
  • If possible, have someone with you who can hold the ladder and act as a spotter for you while you are on the ladder and on the roof as well.

Hire a contractor

Getting on your roof yourself is not recommended if you’re not used to regularly climbing ladders at those heights. If you do not use ladders on a regular basis as part of your job and are not rained in proper ladder safety measures it is best to call in the experts rather than risking it on your own.  When looking for a roofing contractor, make sure you check to ensure you are working with a professional company and area avoiding scams and fakes.  Ask to see their business license, proof of insurance, certifications, permanent business address, and Better Business Bureau rating. Here at Stay Dry Roofing, we have decades of experience and years of hands-on training and our team of roofing experts are ready to go to work for you. Call us today to schedule a free consultation appointment and let us show you what we can do for you and how we can help you deal with icicles on the roof safely!

Understanding the Risk of Snow and Ice Accumulation on the Roof

Extreme winter weather is bad for people but is also poses a serious risk for your roofing system as the risk of snow and ice accumulation grows the deeper into a brutal winter we get. Roof care for the winter months is critical to keeping your roof in good shape all year round. It is also the biggest contributing factor to prevent roof damage and roof collapse due to snow and ice accumulation. “Snow and ice can collapse roofs, especially on older buildings. Older buildings have a greater risk of corrosion, which can weaken its structural integrity. Newer buildings that have roofs made of light-weight metal, roofs that are flat, or roofs that do not have a lot of supports are more likely to give-in under the pressure of excess snow and ice. Snow drifts on a flat roof that have projections, a lower roof, or other equipment can accumulate snow that has drifted with the wind. This can cause vulnerability unless additional strengthening supports are added. One should contact a professional about safely removing excess snow and ice from a roof” (Polygon Group).

winter roof care in Indianapolis

Prepare Before the Snow and Ice Hits

“There is a complex interaction among the amount of heat loss from a house, snow cover and outside temperatures that leads to ice dam formation. For ice dams to form there must be snow on the roof, and, at the same time, higher portions of the roof’s outside surface must be above 32 degrees F while lower surfaces are below 32…The snow on a roof surface that is above 32 will melt. As water flows down the roof it reaches the portion of the roof that is below 32 and freezes…The dam grows as it is fed by the melting snow above it, but it will limit itself to the portions of the roof that are on the average below 32” (University of Minnesota Extension).

You can make sure your roof is in the best shape possible to handle the snow and ice that is coming by inspecting it now and taking care of any damage or issue before winter hits. To help keep ice off roofs that are sloped, and to reduce the rate at which the ice accumulates on the roof, it is important to make sure attics are well ventilated so the snow won’t melt and refreeze as ice. When the attic isn’t properly ventilated the hot air of the home accumulates and causes the melting and freezing that creates dangerous ice dams. Melted snow and ice can enter a roof via the eaves and flat roofs can experience water damage if ice dams form and prevent water from flowing into drains on a roof. Gutters can also fill with snow and melt that refreezes into ice which can weigh down the eves and cause problems when the weight load gets too heavy. Preventative maintenance is crucial during the winter months to help avoid costly repairs and one of the biggest examples of the risk of snow and ice accumulation that exists is the sheer weight that can accumulate on the roof!

preparing for winter roofing needs

 

Estimate How Much Weight Your Roof Can Support

Snow may seem light and fluffy, but if you have ever been trapped under snow or have sunk to your waist in a snow drift than you know how heavy it can be. Now think about 5-10 feet of that sitting on your roof after a few months of weekly snow storms and snowfall. It is easy to see how the weight can get a bit excessive, but just how heavy can it get? Here are some figures to help put it in perspective:

  • Unless the roof has been damaged or weakened somehow, most modern roofing systems 10 years old or younger should be able to support 20 lbs of weight per square foot of roofing space before it gets to a dangerous level.
  • In some areas of the country where heavy snows and long brutal winters are common, the snow loads used in home design may be considerably higher and can withstand a much larger load before becoming stressed.
  • If you live in a high snow area, you can probably check building codes and look up the reports for when your home or office building was built and see what the specs were for the roofing system that you currently have.

risk of snow and ice accumulation

Evaluate Your Risk of Rooftop Snow/Ice Accumulation

  • Melting snow will drip off steeply sloped roofs faster, giving it less chance to refreeze as ice and build up under the snow load. This is why the roofs of many northern homes and those in high snow areas are usually built with a steep slope.
  • Ice and snow will accumulate much faster on low slope and flat roofs because it has a much longer time in contact with the cold snow and can refreeze before it all has the chance to run off the rooftop and will build thick layers of ice.
  • Poor ventilation of the home and attic will also make you more prone to ice and snow load damage. Heat from the home can melt the snow so it liquifies or turns to slush, but it will quickly refreeze when temperatures dip at night.
  • Older roofing systems are at an increased risk of snow and ice accumulation because older roofs are not often designed to withstand heavy loads. They also may not be designed to reduce the chance of ice accumulation and snow load.

Estimate How Much the Snow on Your Roof Weighs

Using these guidelines from The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety you can use the following to see if your roof is supporting too much snow and ice weight:

  • Fresh snow: 10–12 inches of new snow is equal to one inch of water, or about 5 lb per square foot of roof space, so you could have up to 4 feet of new snow before the roof will become stressed.
  • Packed snow: 3–5 inches of old snow is equal to one inch of water, or about 5 lb per square foot of roof space, so anything more than 2 feet of old snow could be too much for your roof to handle.
  • Total accumulated weight: 2 feet of old snow and 2 feet of new snow could weigh as much as 60 lb per square foot of roof space, which is beyond the typical snow load capacity of most roofs.
  • Ice: 1 inch of ice equals 1 foot of fresh snow.

winter roofing experts

Snow Removal May be Necessary to Avoid Roof Collapse

“If you are in the “danger zone” …or if the loads you estimate based on the thickness of the various types of snow and ice exceed 20–25 psf, you should consider removing snow from your roof. For safe removal that won’t endanger you or damage your roof, use a snow rake with a long extension arm that will allow you to remove the snow while standing on the ground or hire a snow removal contractor” (Disaster Safety). The risk of snow and ice accumulation and the danger it poses to your roofing system is not something to ignore or take lightly. A roof collapse is a serious event and can lead to loss of property and possessions and can even result in loss of life!  It is not a risk that you should take!

Stay Dry Roofing is Here to Help

To get the best wintertime roofing care and to find out more about what you can do to reduce your risk of snow and ice accumulation this season, contact us today!  Stay Dry Roofing is ready to help you with all of your roofing needs and now is the time to have your roof inspected and damage dealt with before the winter chill sets in and the snow and ice begin to accumulate. Contact our team now for a consultation appointment and to learn more about protecting your roofing system from snow and ice damage this winter!

preparing for winter roofing needs

Winter Roof Care in Indianapolis

As the cooler weather descends and snow begins to accumulate on the roof, there is a lot that homeowners need to think about. One of the biggest chores in the winter is making sure the roof survives the brutal effects this time of year can have on the home. But what are the signs that you may be facing a potential winter headache with your roof? Here at Stay Dry Roofing, we know the warning signs most often seen this time of year. If you stay on the lookout for these three key warning signs you will be in good shape for winter roof care:

Snow Accumulation

removing snow from the roofGood winter roof care starts before the snows even begin to fall and ends after the snows have fully melted away. When the snow gets too thick on the roof it can cause problems. Snow gets heavy and can quickly pack down into dangerous snow packs that can easily damage the roof and when these snow packs get too heavy they can even be too much strain for the support struts of the roofing system.  Also, heavy sections of this snow accumulation are prone to suddenly giving way and sliding off the roof. This can damage the roof by tearing off shingles and gouging holes into the roof and it can also tear off gutters and falling snow packs can injure people or pets and damage vehicles and other possessions. So snow accumulation has to be kept under control!

Icicles on Gutters and Eves

ice dam damgersIcicles are another warning sign the winter roof care is needed. They may look beautiful in the morning with the sun setting them aglow but if your roof has massive icicle spikes forming along the gutters and eaves then you should take note. This is a major warning sign for the formation of an ice dam, possibly the biggest threat to the roof and your home as well in the winter. These heavy patches of ice will put undue stress on the supports of the roof and can also cause severe water damage when they melt. They also make the roof slippery and unsafe if anyone tried to go up to clear off snow after a massive snowstorm. If you suspect you have ice dams forming you need to call in the Stay Dry Roofing experts and let us help you safely remove the threat!

Water Damage Inside

winter roof careWhen the roof has been compromised in some way and has missing shingles, damaged struts, or compromised lining, the interior of your home can be at great risk for water damage as the winter season ends. As the warmer weather comes, ice and snow will begin to melt and run off your roof. If the water runs over damaged areas of the roof it can seep into your home and cause water leaks. If water finds its ways into your home a lot of damage can be done very quickly because it can affect the supports in the attic, your celling our walls, it can leak down into the floorboards, and leaks in the ceiling often end up dropping onto other possessions such as furniture or electronics. Call our emergency roofing repair team if you discover you have leaks caused by winter snow and ice damage!

Contact Us For Winter Roof Care

The best way to avoid these winter roofing hazards is to have the professional team here at Stay Dry Roofing help you with all aspects of your roof care and maintenance.  If you need repairs, give us a call, we will handle it for you!  Contact us today to get started on your winter roof care plan!

Protecting Your Home From Overhanging Branches

When it comes to winter roof care and preparation, there is one thing that most homeowners never even think about. Protecting your home from overhanging branches is an important part of taking care of the roofing system, but it is not something you have to worry about in winter, right? Landscaping is a concern of the summer and spring months, right? Well, yes warmer months are generally when we work on trimming trees and taking care our landscapes but this does not mean we can slack off when the snows begin to fall! Here at Stay Dry Roofing, we have seen our fair share of damaged roofs due to overhanging branches and limbs that gave out due to the weight of snow and ice.

Protecting Your Home From Overhanging Branches

Winter roof care is a big deal and you can do a lot to protect your roof and thus your home and family by ensuring your trees are ready to weather the winter months. One of the best ways you can go about protecting your home from overhanging branches that give out during snow and ice storms is to remove all weakened or damaged branches before winter. Most of the times, branches that fall are ones that have already been weakened or damaged in some way before the first snowflake ever falls. Removing these branches removes the risk of them falling on your home. Image the damage a large tree limb causes when it falls on a roof and then double that because of the snow and ice load it will carry and it is easy to see why this is something you cannot ignore! Protecting your home from overhanging branches can also be done by keeping all tree branches back away from the home entirely. Here at Stay Dry Roofing, we can help you get the upper hand on your winter roof care by inspecting your roof system and making recommendations for how you can best prepare.

Winter Roof Care Done Right

You do not want to skip the trees when it comes to making your winter preparations. Even if the cold season is still months away the time to focus on your trees is now so you are ready to go when the snow begins to fall. Make sure you cut back as much as you can and keep branches and limbs away from your home. Don’t risk the safety of your family! When it comes to protecting your home from overhanging branches and snow and ice fall damage, Stay Dry Roofing is here to help! Contact us today to get help with your winter roof care plan!