We hope this message finds you warm and well. As temperatures dip and drop, we encourage you to, from a position of safety and warmth, “listen” to your roof. If you tell the neighbors that you want to “hear what your roof is telling you” this winter, they may be convinced you’re suffering from a bad case of cabin-fever! However, there is much you can learn by paying attention to your roof during cold, harsh weather. In this issue of our newsletter, we take a look at how you can understand what your winter roof is “saying” about your home.
SNOW ON THE ROOF?
If you end up with snow on your roof, pay close attention to how it melts. Ideally, it will melt evenly over your entire roof surface as the outside temperature warms up. If though, you see it melting in just certain areas, that indicates “hot spots” in your attic which are the result of warm air from the living space leaking into the attic. This is not only inefficient from an energy standpoint, but is also the chief cause of potentially damaging and dangerous ice dams and icicles along the bottom edge of your roof. Melted snow from high up on the roof drains down the roof until it hits the cold overhangs where it re-freezes, forming ice.
Melted patches on the roof also indicate inadequate attic ventilation. A properly vented attic will be similar temperature-wise to the outside ambient temperature, preventing snowmelt on the roof until outside temperatures are above freezing.
Sealing off your living space heat from the attic and increasing your attic ventilation will help the snow to stay on your roof until it melts naturally. Natural melting of the snow due to temperatures being above freezing means that the melted water can fully exit the roof as well as your gutters and downspouts. This avoids any issues with ice dams.
FROST IN THE ATTIC?
Next, take a look in your attic on a cold day. Frost on the bottom side of your roof deck or on nails protruding through the deck tells you that you have an unhealthy accumulation of moisture in your attic. High moisture levels in the attic can lead to dangerous mold growth. Your attic insulation is also less effective when it is damp.
To decrease the moisture in your attic, ventilation is normally the key. Sometimes, it may be possible to add a vapor barrier behind your home’s ceiling to help keep moisture form migrating into the attic.
SCHEDULE A SPRING CHECK UP?
Finally, if you have a traditional asphalt or fiberglass shingle roof, take a close look at it in the spring. Cold winter temperatures can make aging shingles crack and even break. If you see more damage to your roof after the winter than what it had before, it will indicate that your roof is getting close to needing to be replaced. Also in the spring, look closely inside your attic, especially at the bottom of valleys, for any indication of roof leaks due to ice dams.
Stay warm this winter. Curl up with a good book or a favorite movie. But when you have time, take a look at your roof and your attic. What is your roof trying to tell you?