3 Ways Snow Affects Your Roof

We hate to bring up unpleasant memories, but just four years ago this month the Mid-Atlantic region was hit with a devastating snowstorm. Baltimore saw more than 25 inches in just one day, and one location in eastern West Virginia experienced 42 inches over the three-day event. Despite the recent history, many homeowners in this area shrug off the potential of significant snowfall, reasoning it’s more of a problem for those in New England or the Midwest. But the truth is, Mother Nature could dish out a heaping helping of the white stuff at any time in the Mid-Atlantic. With this being the season for blizzards, we wanted to share with you some of the ways snow can damage your roof.

Ice Dams

Those icicles hanging from the gutter may be beautiful, but behind them could be an issue that’s anything but pretty. Ice dams are thick accumulations of ice that may plague a sloped roof after a heavy snowfall. It’s the result of a warm roof, which is often caused by inadequate attic insulation or air leaks. The escaping heat causes snow to melt, but once the water reaches the much-colder eaves, it freezes, producing a build-up of ice that further prevents meltwater from draining off the roof. Eventually, the ice works its way under shingles, which loosens them and allows moisture to penetrate the roof, resulting in water damage.


Winter’s freeze-thaw cycle can send homeowners’ heads spinning if they have damaged shingles on the roof. Even minor cracks are enough for moisture to seep in between the shingle and the roof. When met with subfreezing temperatures, the water freezes and expands, worsening the crack and resulting in further roof damage. The problem could eventually lead to a leaky roof and water damage in the attic. That dark, damp environment spells further trouble as it is a perfect condition for mildew and mold to thrive.


While light and fluffy snowfalls are no threat to a roof, heavy and compacted snow presents a serious problem. Weighing around 21 pounds per square foot, wet snow has been known to cause roofs to cave in. Most homes in the Mid-Atlantic, when built to code, should be able to withstand up to 30 pounds per square foot, so most blizzards will break more backs than roofs. Still, significant accumulations of wet snow should keep homeowners vigilant. Ice is even heavier than snow, so keep that in mind when considering how much weight might be up there.

If you have experienced a roof collapse, or if concerns over its structural integrity have you considering a roof replacement, call Schaefer Exteriors immediately. You and your family’s safety could be at risk, not to mention these problems tend to become more time-consuming and costly when not dealt with promptly. Between our high-quality materials and the experience and expertise of our roofing installation professionals, you’ll never need to worry about your roof again.



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