Rooftop Snow May Be Hazardous To Your Home

Ice dams pose a grave safety risk. Pic: NewsCanada

(NC) Snow-covered roofs may look nice in the movies, but in real life they can be somewhat problematic.  This is because of a natural occurrence known as “ice damming.”

Ice damming can happen at any time during the winter season, and although it occurs on the exterior part of your home, it can end up causing damage to interior elements like the walls, ceilings and insulation. It can also lead to mould.

What is ice damming?
An ice dam is created by fluctuations in temperature, such as when snow melts during sunny days and then freezes up again at night, or normal winter temperatures are interrupted by a stretch of warmer days. This results in a barrier of ice 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, water pools there and backs up under the shingles and into your home, where it can cause damage to the wood structure, insulation, ceilings, wall finishes, furnishings and personal belongings.

Outside, ice dams pose a safety risk to people, as large pieces can fall and cause serious injury. They can also cause damage to eaves and lead to the buildup of a white, powdery residue called “efflorescence” on concrete and brickwork.

What you can do?
The best thing to do is to 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.

What to avoid doing?
One thing you should steer clear of is climbing onto the roof 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.

Does your new home warranty cover it?
In most cases, damage associated with ice damming is not covered by Ontario’s new home warranty because it is 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. Find more information in the construction performance guidelines at


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