Winter can be a real nightmare for most people, reasons ranging from slick, unpassable roads, to school cancellations to just plain hating the cold. Winter blizzards can be an even bigger nuisance, bringing not only severe inconvenience, but actual damage to your property. One of the most vulnerable parts of the house during a blizzard is your roof. Several areas can be affected by the heavy snows and ice of a blizzard, making it of prime importance to check things thoroughly after a bit of particularly nasty winter weather.
Once precipitation has finally let up, wrap yourself in warm winter gear and head on outside to start your check for damage. Doing this as soon after the end of the storm as possible can go a long way towards mitigating further damage, something that can easily result in the need for either residential roof replacement or commercial roof replacement. Since snow and ice will be present, be extremely careful when accessing and working on the roof. The snow may be deep enough to be a nuisance, but likely not sufficient to cushion a fall if you aren’t careful.
Your first target is the exterior of the roof itself, namely the shingles. Comparatively, this is one of the easier ways to check for damage, as missing, damaged or discolored shingles are simple to spot. Water from melting snow or ice can get trapped under the shingles, causing them to expand and contract, many times resulting in breakage. Check for loose shingles at various sections of the roof, as well as any discoloration that indicates it is about to fail. Proactive and preventative are the two watchwords when it comes to roof maintenance, and finding shingles while they are still mildly damaged is key.
Another simple way to assess roof damage outside is to simply walk your property and look on the ground for anything that might have become dislodged during the tempest. Metal pieces joined to various areas on the outside, such as around a chimney, as well as actual shingles, can get ripped off the building by high winds and thrown willy nilly all over the place. Upon finding them, check the roof to see if you can find where they came from, so you know exactly what needs repair. Check gutters, exhaust pipes and even where different angles of the roof meet for problems, all prime sections for storm damage.
If high winds were a part of the blizzard you just weathered, one of the most obvious and damaging results can be a tree or heavy branch collapsing on your roof. Situations like this can be very dangerous, as the impact could weaken the roof’s structural integrity enough for a collapse. If you find that any major objects have landed on your roof, call a professional before going back inside.
Now that you have finished braving the cold for your exterior walkabout, it’s time to do the same on the inside. While it may seem difficult, given the lack of direct contact with the elements, and the evidence that brings, there are still several things you can identify as signs your roof has been damaged.
Many homes, especially the older variety, have poor insulation, causing snow to melt underneath and travel to the eaves. Over time, an obstruction is formed, causing the water to pool on the roof. This is called ice damming and can have serious repercussions for both the shingles and the wood under them, called the roof deck.
First, head to the attic and inspect for obvious water seepage, usually evidenced as dark lines traveling down an unfinished attic ceiling. Examine the insulation for any brittleness or discoloration, both signs that water has made its entry. Not only will these factors potentially rot the roof deck, it can also lead to the development of dangerous, toxic mold.
Next, walk the rest of the inside of your house thoroughly, looking for any water stains on the walls or ceiling that have suddenly manifested. Obvious, large water stains are an indicator of a serious problem, one that may require extensive repairs if left untended. Note where the water stains appear, as well as how large and how fast they grow. Use this information to create a targeted search on both the exterior of the roof and localized sections of the attic.
If all of the walls and ceilings in the interior of your home are covered with paint, water stains may be a little difficult to spot. Cases like this require you to examine the paint or wallpaper itself, since the presence of water will warp the paint or cause wallpaper to become brittle or lose adhesiveness. Pull wallpaper back slightly from curled edges and inspect the drywall underneath. Crumbling or discoloration means you have a problem.
Internal components, such as electric devices and systems, can also be affected by water that seeps in as a result of a blizzard. Recessed lighting is one of the easiest culprits to identify, as water damage manifests as brown discoloration and a filmy look about the plastic cover. Check the edges of wall outlets and switches, marking for replacement any you find with noticeable damage.
While damage from a blizzard can be substantial, one of the most difficult scenarios the average home suffers through, there are plenty of steps you can take to help head off even more serious repairs down the line. Diligence with preventative measures, a quick response after the end of the weather and safety when accessing a slick roof are all vital when dealing with the aftermath of heavy snowfall.