How Does Winter Damage Your Roof

Here in Cincinnati and Northern Kentucky, as our particularly frigid autumn begins to turn to winter, homeowners begin to turn their considerations to the harsher conditions that winter often means for their homes. Broadly speaking from a societal perspective, this is the time of year that’s the reason we have the homes we have. If all we experienced was a year round summer interrupted by the milder conditions of spring and fall, we wouldn’t need the more robust homes we have. Winter is when your home is truly put to the test. 


With that test comes inevitable damage, which you can mitigate by careful vigilance in checking for certain risk factors and addressing possible issues right way before they can cause more significant damage. Here are a few things to watch out for:


Cracked Siding

With the extreme cold temperatures that come from deep winter, your vinyl siding becomes susceptible to damage, cracking or peeling away. This is due to the fact that extreme cold can leave the vinyl siding more brittle as it freezes and hardens in the cold, so that wind and casual bumps can cause damage that would otherwise bounce off in warmer temperatures. What’s more, as the weather alternates between rain and snow, water can leak into loose spots in your siding, where it freezes and expands. This further exacerbates damage being done by the cold and creates a cycle where the damage increases over time. The expanding ice creates larger openings which allows more water to seep in, which creates more damage and even larger openings and so on.


Salt is a Vicious Menace

Chemical de-icers are a boon to modern life. Allowing local governments to pre-treat roads in preparation for heavy winter storms, and to quickly react to unexpected layers of ice on roads. Even on private property, these chemical additives can be used to clear your driveway or sidewalk with far less effort and time than a shovel alone would require. While a wide array of different products are available, they’re usually referred to with the generic term “salt” despite the fact that they all carry slightly different chemical makeups. Something many of these products have in common, unfortunately, is a downside. They can cause long term damage to your property, especially when used on wooden decks and concrete sidewalks. This is because the salt components are absorbed by water after melting ice and snow, then soak into the material where they’ve been placed. This then causes the gradual breakdown of the material components of these surfaces. The damage doesn’t stay limited to the outdoors, however. As you walk through both private property and public areas, you undoubtedly set foot on a variety of surfaces that have been treated with these salts, which then clings to your shoes and clothes and gets tracked into your home. As salt is absorbed into your carpet or hardwood floors, it causes similar damage there. Using a good door mat that helps visitors clean off their shoes before entering your home, as well as having a “mud room” where everyone can remove and keep their shoes before walking around inside can make a major difference in preventing this damage.


Your Roof is Under Assault

Of course, the part of your home that faces the most damage from winter is your roof. The part of your home that literally keeps the snow and rain off of your head, your roof faces the brunt of most weather abuse throughout the year. The colder temperatures of winter brings the harsh risks of snow and ice. Snow builds up on your roof, where rain simply washes away. This means that your roof has to stand up to the extra weight (snow weighs about 20 pounds per cubic foot) simply sitting on it after every snowfall. As snow melts, it’s greatest abuse arises. Because heat rises, you will see the snow on your roof melt unevenly, particularly if your home’s insulation is uneven or wearing out. This means that as snow higher up on your roof melts, it runs into the colder portions of your roof lower down and re-freezes. This creates ice dams, which allows water to sit on your roof over time, thawing and refreezing as the temperatures fluctuate throughout the day. (A common cycle in the Ohio River Valley region) This creates an opportunity for the water over time to seep into your roof, causing damage to both shingles and decking. If left unchecked, the damage will spread, with water leaking into your attic or crawlspace as well as your walls.

Don’t let winter catch you unaware! Schedule a visit from New Heights today for a roof inspection or free roof repair proposal. 

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