Why You Should Not Use Rock Salt on Your Roof

Rock salt is well known for its damaging effects on roads, driveways, other outdoor surfaces, and even vehicles. However, there is another time when it can do damage — when you use rock salt on your roof. Most homeowners know the dangers of snow and ice accumulation on the roof. Unfortunately, many reach for the rock salt to cut through the snow and ice. “When the snow piles high in the winter, most of us are not concerned with the harmful results of applying roof melt chemicals. Afterall, salts and roof melt chemicals are a recognized and relatively easy method to melt snow and prevent ice build-up. What is not understood is the downstream damaging impact of using salts and chemicals” (HotEdge). It is a bad idea to use rock salt on your roof for a number of important reasons:

Why You Shouldn’t Use Rock Salt on Your Roof

While it works and will remove snow and ice from your roof and prevent accumulation, it is not recommended to use rock salt on your roof. In this article, we hope to address the main reasons why rock salt is not a good way to cure ice dams:

  • It is ineffective: Rock salt can melt ice only at temperatures down to 20° F (-6.67° C). What this means in layman’s terms is it will only work if the temperature is on the ‘warm side of freezing’ or 20 to 32° F (-6.67 to 0° C).
  • It is not practical: Another disadvantage to trying to use rock salt to melt ice dams is that the typical ice dam is made of many hundreds of gallons of frozen water and can be extremely heavy. The sheer volume of snow and ice that can be on a roof that has not been cleared in a while would require too many pounds of rock salt to melt it to be truly practical.
  • It rusts nail heads: Rock salt may not damage the shingles themselves, but it can cause the nails holding your shingles to the roof to corrode. In turn, this rust can cause stains and streaks on your roof. Additionally, if they get too bad, the nails can rust through and break, thus causing your shingles to become loose and get damaged.
  • It rusts other building materials: Rock salt that you scatter along your roof will not stay there for long. As it melts, the ice and as the weather affects the salt, it will wash over the eaves and over the rest of your roofing system. It can corrode downspouts and also damage driveways and sidewalks where the melted salt ends up pooling.
  • It can damage garden plants: Once rock salt melts and mixes with water, it will drip down the roof and through the downspouts. When it pours out of the downspout and drips off the eaves of your roof, it can reach garden beds and “poison” the soil. Salt is damaging to plants and very few varieties are tolerant enough to withstand the dangerous levels that can occur when you use rock salt on your roof.
  • It can damage masonry: Melted water with rock salt mixed can drip off the roof edge and onto stone or brick masonry. Salt particles can easily get in through the porous surfaces build up quickly. The true danger is that this salt accumulation can greatly speed up the freeze-thaw damage in much the same way as it does with common concrete/asphalt driveway damage.

How to Remove Ice Dams Without Using Rock Salt

First of all, while rock salt is a bad idea, please do not use table salt as a rock salt substitute!  It has the exact same chemical composition; the only difference is that it is ground up into smaller pieces. So, the damage and risks are exactly the same as if you use rock salt on your roof.

Also, it is very risky to chip away at an ice dam with a hammer, ice pick, or shovel. There is a very high risk of losing your footing on the snow and ice and falling from the roof. Chipping away with a sharp or heavy object will likely damage your shingles, which are already brittle from the cold. Additionally, using these kinds of tools to remove snow and ice will make it easier for you to fall if you lose your balance.

It is better to try and clear off snow build up from the ground or from a short-run ladder. You can utilize a long-handled roof rake to clear snow away and prevent the thaw and refreeze that causes ice dams to form. You can also better insulate and ventilate your attic and control the temperatures inside your home to help reduce the thawing risk this winter. This can help you avoid the need to use rock salt on your roof.

In extreme cases, it is always advisable to hire a professional roofer to deal with your roofing concerns. They can get rid of the snow and ice buildup safely without risking damage to your roof, your home, or yourself. And they can get the job done without needing to use rock salt on your roof or other damaging products that can do more harm than good.

Contact Stay Dry Roofing Today

To learn more about snow and ice removal and how to prevent ice dams this winter, contact Stay Dry Roofing today. Don’t resort to risky moves like trying to use rock salt on your roof. Trust the roofing experts and get your roof ready now before the heavy snows start to fall! Call today and schedule a consultation appointment and let the Stay Dry Roofing team come to inspect your roof and develop a winter care plan that is customized for you!

 

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!

winter roof care in Indianapolis

Tips for Safe Removal of Snow From Your Roof

During the winter months, snow can accumulate on the roof of your home and if it gets too deep and heavy, it can cause problems for your home. The removal of snow from your roof is something that needs to be undertaken only with careful planning and consideration. Most of the time, you are better off leaving the snow on the roof of it is not too heavy or causing any problems- this is because there are certain risks involved with removing snow and ice and the risk of damaging property or injuring someone during the process. But if you do have to get the snow off the roof, here are a few important tips for leaning the roof of snow this season:

ice and snow problems on roofsDon’t use high powered machines or mechanical snow removal equipment because there is too high a risk of damaging the roof and this outweighs any benefits the speed could bring.

Don’t use sharp tools to break up ice and heavy snow packs. Tools like picks and metal rakes and shovels can treat shingles- it is best to use plastic and chip away at the snowpack slowly.

Do make sure you take the time to remove any drifted snow piles before you go on the roof- first at any of the key building elevation change and then at parapets and near any equipment.

Do remember that you need to remove any snow that might be remaining after you have cleared things off during the removal of snow from your roof.

remove snow and ice from roofing systemsDo make sure that as you are working to remove snow from your roof that you do so in the direction of the roof’s angles and slopes in order to prevent uneven snow loading and weight.

Don’t stockpile snow on the roof. Don’t push and pile then push and pile again- work in on a strip and push the snow all the way off then go and do the next pass the same way.

Do dispose of removed snow to prevent it from piling up to the roof line. Proper distribution of cleared snow is an important part of the removal of snow from your roof.

Do keep snow from piling up around fire escapes, ventilation areas, AC or heating units, and other structures. This is one of the tips for cleaning the roof of snow many don’t think about.

Do require any contractors you work with to use safety equipment and to follow all codes and regulations from OSHA and the EPA and other governing entities.

winter roofing damageDo have someone remain on the ground as a spotter as well as to help ensure pedestrians and vehicles are not in the danger zone and are now hit by falling snow or ice.

Do be mindful of ice as you work in the removal of snow from your roof. Black ice can cause slips and falls and icicles falling even a foot from the roof can cause serious injury.

Do be ready for roof snow to come loose and slide off when using a roof rake. Make sure you stay a safe distance away from the eaves and well beyond the sliding radius.

Don’t forget to remember there maybe skylights, vent pipes, electrical boxes, and other items and structures that may be obscured by the snow that you don’t want to walk on or hit.

roof maintenance in the winterWhen it comes to winter home care chores, the removal of snow from your roof is one of the most dreaded and also the riskiest of them all. If you need help dealing with snow accumulating on your roof, follow these handy tips for cleaning the roof of snow and give us a call. Our team of roof care experts here at Stay Dry Roofing can help keep you and your family and your home safe all winter long. Call us today for a consultation!

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!