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A Guide to Roof Inspection: Getting ready for the Winter

Regular maintenance check-ups may help you stay on top of things during, before, and after the winter season. Look out for these common signs of trouble:

  • Cracks on the exterior or interior of a wall

  • Warping of interior and exterior finishes

  • Jamming or rubbing doors against frames

  • Noisy creaking noises

  • A buckling ceiling

  • Other visible physical damage

There is another crucial component to your property - your roof.

Types of roof coverings that can help during the winter

Heavy snowfall can result in roof damage, so it is important to take extra precautions to maintain the structural integrity of your roof. To prevent roof damage, you should inspect your roof at least twice a year: once in the fall, and again in the spring. However, all roofs are different.

The following are the most common types of roof coverings and what to watch out for:

Built-up roof coverings:

In this type of covering, reinforced fabric layers alternate with bitumen layers (asphalt) followed by a layer of granular construction aggregates, such as stone or gravel. When built-up roof coverings are poorly installed, pockets of air and moisture can accumulate between the layers. When blisters burst, the resulting holes can allow water in.

Modified bitumen roof coverings:

It is a long-lasting option for flat roofs made of base and cap sheet membranes and topped with colored granules, which are similar to the gravel on built-up asphalt membranes. A poor installation can lead to water infiltration and premature aging.

Single-ply membrane roof coverings:

Among them are Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) and Thermoplastic Polyolefin (TPO), which are flexible sheets of synthetic polymer that can be categorized into two main groups: thermoplastics and synthetic rubbers. EPDM roofing expands and contracts with changes in temperature. Pay attention to the perimeter as the membrane can become unfastened in these areas.

Shingle coverings:

In this covering, flat or curved tiles interlock or overlap to divert water away from a pitched roof. Roofing shingles require a suitable pitch and their life expectancy varies based on factors such as the type and quality of the materials used, as well as the climate in which they are placed.

How to safely remove snow from your roof

Keep in mind that too much snow can damage your roof. Snow and ice should be removed before their thickness exceeds 20 cm (8 in.). The following tips can help ensure that your roof is not damaged during the removal process:

  • Shovels made of wood or plastic should be positioned at least 10 cm (4 inches) above the finished surface of the roof covering.

  • Avoid sharp tools (e.g., axes and picks). Instead, use rubber mallets to break up the ice.

  • Avoid using excessive heat (e.g., welding torches), which could damage the roof cover.

  • Use de-icing salt with care, as it can speed up the corrosion of the metal components of your roof.

  • Ensure that water drains well.

Track your snow removal activities using the snow removal log. To find out if your roof can handle heavy snow loads, consult a structural engineer according to the age and condition of your building. An excess of weight can cause structural damage as well as cause ice dams, which can damage the roof drainage system and increase the potential for water damage to the buildings supporting structure.

When to remove the snow from your roof

Snow can be removed from your roof by you if you have the right equipment and are prepared for the significant risks associated with this task, such as personal injury and damage to your roof. However, if you are unsure of your ability to remove snow yourself, you might consider hiring a contractor.

If you choose that route, be sure to sign a written agreement that details the work to be done, as well as the roles and responsibilities of each party. Ensure that you also obtain a certificate of insurance from the contractor and ask your broker to verify that the coverage is appropriate.

What to do in the event of an accident

When an accident occurs, the complainant (or a witness) must complete an incident report. A copy of the report form must be kept on-site and include the individual's contact information, the date when the form was completed, the signature of a manager or employee who witnessed the event, and relevant details about it.

In addition, take dated photographs of the conditions at the scene as well as the footwear that the injured party was wearing.

Is your roof covered?

In the event of damage to your roof, the right policy can help you to be covered. For help assessing your roof, contact APD Roofing. Our team will assist you throughout the inspection process.

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Lead Claims Consultant, IICRC Certified