It may seem a little incongruous, during a warm July in South Devon, that we are publishing an article on the topic of the damage than wintery weather can do to the roof of your home or other property. However, in terms of building maintenance generally and roofing in particular, the key is to be prepared well in advance for the type of harm that the elements can have on your property. The importance of being prepared cannot be over-emphasised and it goes without saying that the optimal time to undertake repairs that are required to a faulty roof is in the warm dry weather before the elements have had the chance to wreak the greatest amount of damage. There are several different types of element that are liable to cause damage to a roof. In the winter, these are obviously hail stones, wind, rain, ice and snow. When they arrive together they are liable to cause the greatest amount of damage.
Damage caused to the roof by hail stones can often be difficult to detect unless, of course, the hail stones are as big as golf balls! With smaller stones, however, the roof can be damaged in ways that may not necessarily become obvious until some later event. For example hail can cause hair-line cracks and punctures in the roofing asphalt that are quite difficult to see but, when they are uncovered can be catastrophic. These small fissures can permit a modest amount of water to infiltrate the building. When this subsequently freezes (or heats up to form steam) it can have the effect of damaging the covering tiles. Where the roofing membrane is of a single-ply construction, small dents can be caused. Whilst these may not represent an immediate breach in the roofing materials they do increase the prospects of the roof developing future breaches, which may becoming dramatically apparent in heavy winds. It is of the utmost importance, after any heavy hails storm , to have the roof inspected by a team of local roofers to assess the extent of any damage caused and advise on the need, if any, to carry out remedial actions.
Snow brings many problems with it and we look at some of them below. In terms of snow as a single element its greatest risk is with the weight that it can apply to a roof, especially a flat one. Put simply, a heavy fall of snow can put the entire roofing structure at risk and it is essential to ensure that the roofing timbers and beams are up to the job of supporting the increased weight that bears down on them following a severe snow storm.
In terms of the damage that can be caused by ice, snow and rainfall should also be included. This is because of the effect that a freeze and thaw proves can have on the integrity of the roof. As we all know water is capable of infiltrating the smallest of breaches on the surface of a structure. When water enters a crack in one of the parts of a roof it can remain there indefinitely. If the temperature drops the water will freeze. One of the consequences of water freezing is that it expands. In a closed surrounding, the freezing of the water will cause cracks, holes and tears to the roof’s structure. This has the effect of making it easier for more water to enter when the thaw strikes and, when the temperature falls below freezing once again the whole process is repeated on an accelerating basis. Thus, the freeze/that effect can be extremely harmful to the roof and all holes, and cracks, however small, should be eliminated before the onset of the winter weather.
The wind has an unerring ability to dislodge loose slates and tiles. If this occurs during the process of a hails, snow or ran storm, the consequent risk of flooding is obvious. Once again, an early roof inspection, involving the securing of all slates and tiles will have the effect of reducing the risk of this occurrence.
As we have mentioned previously, even in the middle of the summer, it is never too early to call upon your Devon roofers to inspect your roof to ensure that it is in a fit and proper condition to cope with whatever the Devon winter decides to throw at it later in the year.