Michigan weather is notoriously unpredictable, especially in the winter. As the saying goes, if you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes. Part of what that means is that you do not want to be left with a roof problem, especially in the middle of the winter.
Roof Problem: Ice Dams
In the middle of the winter, you may notice large icicles hanging off a roof. While these may be fun to look at and give a “winter wonderland” kind of feel, they are actually a serious sign of trouble. First, they are dangerous, in that they can easily detach and cause injury.
Beyond the risk of injury, these ice dams pose a significant risk to your roof. Snow will melt, the water will run down the roof, and then get caught before draining off. When it gets caught, it will get under the edge of your shingles, slowly prying them up, leading to leaks.
There are several problems with your roof and home that may cause these ice dams:
- Insufficient insulation in your attic
- Improper attic ventilation
- Attic heat leaks
If you see ice dams forming, call to get a professional assessment of the situation. Sometimes it is as easy as adding some new insulation to your attic, and you avoid a potentially catastrophic roof problem.
Strong Winter Winds
Regardless of where in Michigan you reside, you are bound to encounter strong winter winds at some point. These winds are notorious for wreaking havoc on people’s roofs.
The rating of your shingle will determine how strong of wins it can withstand. Grade A shingles can withstand winds of up to about 60mph whereas grade F can withstand winds of up to 110mph. These ratings are if the shingles are installed properly and are undamaged.
However, if your shingles are getting old, or have been damaged by an ice dam, one good wind gust pulls these right up. That’s why it is important to pay attention to your shingles, and repair minor damage before it leads to a major roof problem.
Heavy Snow Loads
One thing every homeowner should be aware of is the roofing load capacity. If you live in southeast Michigan, you may luck out and have very little snow for a season. But then you get the crazy Nor’easter, and you may get six inches overnight.
Whereas if you live in the northern parts of the lower peninsula or in the UP, you may receive as much as 300 inches over the winter. The ranges are crazy and mean we all have to prepare for the worst.
When it comes to your roof, it is important to understand what it can hold. Different roof designs and structures are engineered to hold different amounts. Another issue to consider is the composition of the snow. Light fluffy snow will accumulate quickly but has very little weight compared to dense wet snow.
Winter Weather Leaks
Roof leaks you experience in the winter are a culmination of several factors. These include too much snow, the formation of ice dams, winds, and weakening roofing materials.
When you first experience a leak, you may notice subtle hints of rust around parts of your ceiling. However, these may quickly expand, lead to ballooning of your ceiling paint, and eventually dripping water.
Regardless of which of these symptoms you see, you are at risk of a catastrophic failure. This is a serious failure that usually results in part of the roof collapsing in, and causing serious damage to your home.
What to Do If You Notice Roofing Issues
The first step to protecting your home and roof is to prevent damage. Take notice of the condition of your roof and fix minor issues when they come up.
Regular maintenance is the best way to avoid major issues. If you have skylights, be sure to caulk around the edge to keep it sealed. Cracked or worn caulking is a common cause of leaks.
Also, keep an eye on your shingles. If you experience damage due to a storm, be sure to have it fixed quickly. This means that if you have shingles that are peeling up around the edges, that you use something like liquid nails roof repair to get it adhered down.