Snow and ice can shorten the lifespan and make roofs leaky

The 15 consecutive days of sub-freezing temperatures in central Ohio and the start of thawing on Monday can put heavy loads on homeowners’ roofs and gutters, causing cracks, cracks and leaks, roofing experts say.

Most of the calls Atlas Roofing and Siding received on the Far North Side recently were due to problems with ice jam, said owner Clancy Malone. Ice build-up occurs when water collects and freezes in areas such as the gutter, or when roof lines converge.

“Water will find its way down – this is how the roof and gutters are designed to allow water to flow down and out,” said Malone. “When we get ice, it will literally build, grow and break through areas that water would not normally get into because it grows up and out as it expands.”

The ice can draw water into the home and cause it to seep into the home through vulnerable areas like roof-to-wall joints, skylights, and the base of chimneys, said Bill Schmidt, owner of Brothers Roofing and Construction in Worthington.

On the outside of the building, Schmidt said brick and mortar walls, roofs, and wood paneling can break.

“The different swings and the weather – hot and cold, freezing and thawing – then take their toll on every part of the building,” said Schmidt. “A roof is designed so that water drains off, not just sits on it. Otherwise, it will leak.”

If a roof is leaking, homeowners can try to clear snow and ice from the area, although Schmidt warns that most people cannot tell where the water is coming from and potentially create more problems.

Atlas Roofing and Siding provided ice deposit removal services in the past but stopped when they noticed that chipping the ice or burning it with a torch was causing damage to gutters, shingles, fascia and soffit areas.

Malone said the best thing to do is to be patient and wait for the ice to melt. In the meantime, identify leaks or damage to determine which parts of your home are weakest and plan for improvements to prevent future deterioration.

Homes with newer roofs should have built-in protections such as drip strips and ice guards that keep water from pooling and flowing into the home. Malone said that while it is a code requirement for households to have these components, many don’t because they are too old, incorrectly built, or possibly have the wrong gutter protection.

Even if there is a leak or damage, it’s important to stay calm and not overreact, said Steven Shaw, branch manager at Bone Dry Roofing in Hilliard. He said homeowners tend to panic when rare, extreme weather events occur.

“It’s a lot of snow and we don’t usually have that kind of snow cover all year round,” Shaw said. “You don’t want systemic problems leading to mold and rot and long-term problems, but you will have short-term pain (and) that are not indicative of the overall health of the roof.”


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