bradford roof

Melting rooftop snow can lead to big problems

Wednesday Feb 23rd, 2022


Whenever the temperature rises after a cold spell, whether from a winter thaw or the beginning of spring, rooftop snow can lead to damage. Ice damming is a common occurrence, and it can affect both the exterior and interior of your home.

What causes ice damming?

An ice dam is created when snow melts during the day and then freezes again, usually at night around the edges of your roof or eavestroughs. As this barrier of ice gets larger, it prevents further melting snow from draining off the roof. 

With no way of leaving your roof, meltwater pools there and backs up under the shingles and into your home, where it can cause damage to the wood structure, insulation, ceiling, wall finishes, furnishings and personal belongings.

Outside, ice dams are not only a safety risk, but they can also cause damage to eaves and lead to the buildup of a white, powdery residue called efflorescence on concrete and brickwork.

Homeowner dos and don’ts

The best thing to do is prevent ice dams before they happen. Soon after a snowfall, use a roof rake to remove snow from the first metre of your roof. If you already have ice buildup and want it removed, consider hiring an experienced professional to do it for you.

Don’t climb onto the roof to try to clear snow or ice — you can damage your home and seriously hurt yourself. Throwing salt or de-icing chemicals on roof ice is also a bad idea, as they may cause shingles to deteriorate.

Warranty coverage for ice damming

In most cases, damage associated with ice damming isn’t covered by Ontario’s new home warranty because it’s a natural occurrence that can be prevented through proper maintenance.

However, you may be entitled to coverage for up to two years if the water penetration into your home is the result of a defect in workmanship or materials. If you’re unsure, talk to your builder. You can also contact Tarion, the organization that backstops your builder warranty.

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