In Northern Virginia, we all love a good snowfall. Many of us have memories of historic snow events in recent years–including the Snowpocalypse triple whammy of 2009/2010 and Snowzilla in 2016. Big storms are exciting but also create challenges. Winter can be tough on your roof. The combination of snow buildup and the melt/refreeze cycle creates wear and tear and the potential for leaks–or worse. As we head into snow season, preparedness is vital. Ensure your roof is in good shape before winter weather hits and brush up on what to do if winter weather hits hard.
Dos and Don’ts For Snow Management and Removal
During a typical Mid-Atlantic winter, snow doesn’t usually need to be removed from the roof. But if we get a considerable amount of snow or a series of snow events that lead to buildup, removal may be necessary. One essential tip: most homeowners should stick with sidewalks and don’t try to DIY rooftop snow removal. It can be dangerous or even deadly. Instead, call a professional team with the training and equipment to do the job safely. The Federal Emergency Management Agency offers excellent safety tips for removing snow from your roof:
- If snow removal requires climbing onto the roof, use a qualified professional instead of doing the job yourself.
- If you’re tackling snow removal on your own, choose a long-handled, non-metal roof rake that you can use from the ground.
- Watch for dislodged icicles that can be dangerous if they fall.
- Leave a layer of several inches of snow to avoid damaging the roof.
- Do not use mechanical snow removal equipment on the roof.
How Can I Protect My Roof During The Winter Months?
The best way to protect your roof against the elements is by making sure it’s in good shape in the first place. When it comes to protecting your roof from ice and snow damage, prevention is key. This means getting ready before the flakes start to fly.
- Get your roof inspected before it snows. Have your contractor check for potential weak spots and leaks.
- Get your roof checked for damage after a significant snow event.
- Make sure your vents, chimneys, and skylights are installed correctly. Any openings in your roof can potentially create leaks.
- Choose a high-quality waterproof underlayment between the shingles and the decking to prevent leaks.
What Strategies Can Keep Snow From Damaging My Roof?
Most years, snow is a fact of life in our region. We can’t stop it from falling, but we can keep it from damaging our roof. Here are some strategies to prevent damage:
- Clean your gutters in late fall to clear leaves and debris before winter snows arrive.
- Be aware of FEMA snow load guidelines and recognize the potential for a roof collapse in case of a major snow event.
- Ice dams are one of the most significant causes of roof damage. Ice dams happen when uneven heat coming up from the roof causes snow to melt and refreeze at the eaves of your house. You can prevent them by improving insulation and ventilation in your attic.
Which Roofing Materials Are Best In Snowy Conditions?
While metal and slate roofs offer the best protection in snowy conditions, you can get a lot of protective bang for your buck with high-quality asphalt shingles. Here’s a look at which roofing materials do best in the snow:
- Metal roofing is lightweight yet tough. Snow and ice don’t stick to metal and instead tend to slide off easily. High-quality metal roofing is designed to last for decades, even in harsh conditions.
- Slate is a durable and tough material. As with metal, snow tends to slide off a slate roof. The dense material helps regulate the temperature in your home and avoids ice dams.
- Metal and slate roofs are tops in snowy conditions but come with a hefty price tag. High-quality architectural asphalt shingles are less expensive than metal or slate but are incredibly durable and weather-resistant. They offer more protection from snow and ice than traditional asphalt shingles.
- Remember, the style of your roof also matters. Steep, angled roofs can handle more weight and help move melted snow off the roof. Flat roofs are more susceptible to snow damage and the melt/refreeze cycle.
Weathering The Storm With DryHome
When it comes to preventing snow damage, keep in mind the three Ps:
- Prevention: making sure your roof is in good shape before winter comes.
- Preparedness: knowing what to do if we get heavy snow.
- Professional support: having a trusted roofing company to get your roof in great shape before winter hits.
At DryHome, our priority is making sure your roof is weatherproof before snow and ice events occur. We focus on:
- High-quality shingles from top manufacturers.
- Top-notch installation and attention to detail, including vents, flashing, and chimneys.
- Making sure your attic is efficiently insulated and ventilated to stop the melt/refreeze cycle.
- Giving shingles a solid foundation, including waterproof underlayment.
With these essential areas covered, your roof is ready to weather the storm, and snow days are filled with worry-free fun.