It’s one of the classic sounds of winter turning to spring: The sound of water dripping off a roof and splashing on the ground.
But what happens if all that water isn’t draining properly?
The moisture created by the spring melt affects a roof much more severely than a simple rain shower. That’s because the pressure from the remaining ice and snow forces water to back up under shingles and through pinhole-sized gaps. It can even cause a syphoning effect as holes draw in more water through a leak.
A winter like the one that just passed, with large swings in the temperature that bring multiple freeze-thaw cycles, leads to a buildup of heavier ice and can make matters even worse.
“Property owners need to be able to deal with the large volume of moisture on their roof,” says Ernie Cecchetto, president of Ottawa-based Roof Maintenance Solutions. “If your roof isn’t prepared to deal with that massive volume of water that’s about to end up in your drain, get up there and look at it.”
While roof maintenance is ideally a year-round process, there are several steps property owners and managers can take to help prevent leaks and moisture damage as winter comes to a close and spring arrives.
The biggest one is to ensure all drainage paths are clear so water can easily flow off the roof. A blocked drain, and resulting pools of water, will put extreme pressure on a roof and risks damaging the structure or membrane.
Another measure to protect your roof is to clean up any leaves, twigs, bird droppings and other detritus left over from autumn that’s been hidden by snow and ice for the last few months.
This accumulated material will break down and turn into a sludge-like silt that pools in low spots, clogging drains and leading to an accumulation of algae.
This can also enable vegetation to sprout. An innocent plant growing on the surface of your roof can conceal a large intrusive root system below that is perforating the protective roof membranes and causing leaks.
“We remove all unwanted damaging vegetation from your roof to ensure the barriers remain viable and keep your roofing system free from damage,” Mr. Cecchetto says.
The start of spring is also the time to assess how well your roof stood up to winter. A roof holds important components that work together to ensure the structure’s long-term viability. Missing components such as drain covers, nails and vents that have been swept away by the wind, rain and snow can compromise the integrity of the protection system and leads to leaks and damage.
Hiring a professional who knows what to look for, and who can replace any critical items that are missing, is an easy way to prevent unnecessary damage to a roof and avoid premature repairs and replacement.