Yes, we realize it’s the middle of summer here in beautiful Victoria BC. And probably the last thing on your mind at this point is winter, let alone, snow and ice. But as you may recall, the winter of 2016-17 was quite an epic one around here. Many homeowners found out the hard way that their gutters weren’t up to the challenging winter conditions.
Ice and snow accumulations bring the potential for headaches beyond those associated with white-knuckle driving; ice and snow buildup can damage a home’s roof and gutters, and in many cases can critically damage both.
Roofing and gutters are damaged by ice and snow accumulations in two ways. The first is that the sheer weight of a heavy snow can create enough downward pressure to dislodge guttering or in extreme cases, to collapse a roof. The lower the angle of the roof’s slope, the greater the pressure on load-bearing struts will be from the accumulation of several inches of snow. Snow that will inch its way off your roof and plow through anything in it’s way. Think glacier cutting through rock…. Except it’s your gutters getting cut through.
The second, and more prevalent, cause of roof and gutter damage comes from the formation of ice dams. An ice dam is created when heat emanating from the home’s attic melts snow on the roof, which then refreezes after it trickles into the gutters. The ice buildup prevents melt water from flowing through the gutters and out the downspouts. Ice dams can cause melt water to back up and go under the roof’s shingles. This leads to leaks and water damage to the roof, fascia and soffit. An ice dam also causes water to spill over the side of the gutter and soak into the ground next to the home’s foundation. In turn, this leads to foundation damage or water seeping into the basement or crawlspace.
Okay, this all sounds terrible! What do we do to prevent this from happening?
Take action. Now. While it’s still nice enough to be outside and the only thing attacking your roof are seagulls and the snow isn’t packing on your roof. Long before the snow even enters your mind this should be on your radar as part of your annual home maintenance checklist.
Prevent damage from ice and snow in the following ways:
First, ensure your gutters are in good repair and that you’re using a gutter guard system like our gutter guards of choice: Alu-rex. This will prevent ice dams, is strong enough to stand up to the snow build up, and will allow melted water from ice to flow out constantly.
Second, if you waited too long and it’s not 30 degrees (at least positive 30 degrees) outside when you read this: then use a roof rake to remove snow buildup from the roof. The tool’s telescoping handle allows the homeowner to remain on the ground as you scrape snow off shingles and knocks icicles from the guttering. Roof rakes are available at most hardware or home improvement stores.
Third, a well-insulated attic loses less heat, and an attic with good ventilation traps less ambient heat. Maintaining adequate attic insulation is the first step in preventing ice dams.
Get prepared in stages. Stage 2 should be revisited in the fall, when you should remove leaves and other debris from the gutters. This will help to clear the path for water to flow, which also helps prevent ice dams.
Finally, adding heating cables to the roof and gutters prevents snow from building up and also eliminates the possibility of water refreezing in the gutters. Heating cables are most often used in areas known for heavy snowfall, which apparently Victoria is now becoming. Thanks global warming!
Snow is an expected weather event in Victoria these days, but damage to roofing and gutters doesn’t have to be part of that picture. Preventing roof damage using these simple measures is worth several thousand dollars’ worth of cure.