February 2015 was a record-breaking month for many areas in the Northeast and has proven to be one of the harshest winters in recent memory. In addition to bitter temperatures and heavy snowfall, the effects of this winter are also making themselves known at homes and businesses — and helping roofing companies set records of their own.
Roofing companies are seeing an unprecedented number of calls from homeowners and business owners about ice dams on their roofs or leaks and damage that occur as a result of them.
“This has been a really cold, prolonged winter with no big thaws,” Jeff Kline told the Democrat and Chronicle. Kline is the production manager of Graves Bros. Home Improvement Company in Rochester, NY. “When it gets cold and stays cold like this, we have problems. Right now there is a big panic because of all the ice buildup.”
Homes that have flat roofs, are poorly insulated, have cathedral ceilings, aren’t well ventilated, or have gambrel-style roofs are all at risk for ice dams.
An ice dam forms at the edge of a roof and creates a barrier that keeps water from draining off of a roof through a gutter or otherwise. Since the water cannot drain, it then leaks into the home.
Leaks aren’t the only problem that stems from an accumulation of snow and ice on a roof — collapses are also a very real risk.
According to NECN, over 160 roofs in the Boston area have collapsed or faced collapse in the last three weeks of February alone.
“Ice dams can lead to water back up on the roof surface,” says Mike Megna, Owner, West Michigan Roofing & Construction. “Standing water on the roof can penetrate the roofing layer and eventually make its way into the interior of the house, resulting in significant interior damage and mold issues. Safety first! Desperation leads homeowners into dangerous situations! Have a licensed and insured professional asses situation.”
People spend between 1 – 4% of their home’s value on maintenance and repairs in a year, but having to pay for extensive roof repairs could raise that if people don’t take preventative measures. Homeowners tend to purchase durable roofs — durability was cited as the most important factor in the selection of a new roof by 88% of respondents in a survey — but winter weather can take a toll on even the sturdiest structure.
Most homeowners see their homes as a singular unit and not a sum of a number of parts — almost 90% of them — but it’s essential to remember that roofs serve and important function and need extra attention this time of year.