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Roof after a blizzard with two people shoveling snow off of it

A Look at How Bad Blizzards Can Be for Your Roof

Winter storms bring the worst trials weather can throw at us. Snow, high winds, hail, and sleet are only some of the hazards your roof will face.

Flashback a few years and you’ll be reminded of a New Jersey snowstorm so powerful it made history. An overnight blizzard took the state by surprise and blasted power lines, churned an ocean, and left some areas under 30 inches of snow. Thankfully, our winter storms aren’t all so huge. Large or small, though, every one of them could mean big problems for New Jersey’s roofs.

Wild Winter Winds

Blizzard winds qualify as any that clock in at 35 mph or more and last for a sustained period (usually a few hours). A lot of roof damage can be done in that time, and the first things to go will be any loose shingles, flashing, tiles, or slates. Not only will those be torn off with ease by winter storms, but even the tightest roofing materials could also take a buffeting strong enough to pry them loose.

Winter storm winds are also packed with snow, hail, or sleet, which only add more power to their punch. Rock-hard granules of ice and other debris pounding a roof for hours on end can at the very least ruin the appearance of a home, and at worst punch holes straight through the top.

Whole or partial reroofing may be necessary after a blizzard, and some homeowners may even choose to invest in this before the worst weather strikes. It’s a sound investment that makes for both a tougher roof and an improved exterior effect. Blue Nail Roofing solutions employ an attractive polymer roofing material that, among other impressive resistance statistics, can withstand storm winds of up to 110 mph.

The Risks of Freezing Rain

Rain is a double threat. Driving rains are common in winter storms and can lash a roof with the same destructive force as winds. They also have the added danger of being ice waiting to happen. The water propelled with storm-level force can find its way through any chink in a roof’s armor (if it doesn’t tear a few new ones by itself).

Before homeowners know it, they could find their attic filled with inches of freezing water that brings the risk of mold, mildew, and damage to interior electrics. Leaks can also damage insulation, strip paint, and destroy drywall. The interior wood beneath a roof is very susceptible to winter storm leaks. Roof support beams can weaken over time, causing them to buckle and greatly increase the odds of a structural collapse.

Don’t be alarmed if rain has found its way through your roof. There are some home hacks that do a lot of preventative good. We recommend spreading out some towels and buckets below the leak and emptying them regularly. It may seem counterintuitive, but poking a further small hole in the ceiling’s drywall will allow more water to come through. This quickens the drainage process and helps prevent further damage before you call a roofing professional to solve the problem.

The Dangers of Heavy Snow and Ice

Even a few inches of snow can spell problems for a roof. Winter storms can add layers of the stuff a few feet deep in no time at all. The snow that stays put becomes heavier and heavier, weighing roughly 20 pounds per cubic foot or 1.25 pounds per inch of depth. Larger homes are therefore in greater danger. Cracks may begin to appear above upper-floor windows, and doors and ceilings may bow, indicating that the load-bearing capacity of the roof is being sorely tested.

Melting storm snow (caused by either warming weather or the rising heat from a home) poses the greatest hazards to a roof. This is because either it becomes the freezing water that finds its way inside through every possible crack, or it stays solid enough to form ice.

Ice dams appear when the snow melts and solidifies again in gutters, eaves, and roof edges. These weighty blockages can rip a gutter clean away from the roof. Ice dams also act as a barrier against any further melting snow running into the gutter and safely away. Since it can’t do this, running water just keeps sitting there on the roof, threatening to find its way inside or freeze over to add further structural strain.

The thaw/freeze that can occur during winter storms causes expansion and contraction in roofing materials, which further exacerbates any existing cracks. Heavy snow can also be too much for tree branches to bear. If a tree overarches your home, you must be careful that those overloaded branches don’t snap off and land on your roof, adding even more dangerous weight.

Roofs Can’t Hide From Hail

Hail causes roughly $1 billion in damages every year across the country. Even the smallest hail particles can do a lot of harm, but the hail brought on by winter storms is never uniform in particle size. A diameter of an inch is enough to put a dent in a roof. The rate of damage increases exponentially with hail size, meaning a 2-inch hail particle won’t only cause double the damage of a 1-inch one, it will hit with many more times the impact.

This can be devastating to the vulnerable glass of skylights as well as to shingles, flashing, vents, and more. It’s often difficult to see from the ground how much damage hail does to roof materials. On closer inspection, bruising and cracking that weakens their performance is easier to spot. The same polymer solutions used by Blue Nail that can withstand 110 mph winds are also rated Class 4 for impact resistance, making them the toughest available.

Here are lots more resources to help prepare New Jersey residents for winter storms. We’re also standing by here at Blue Nail to provide homeowners with advice, insight and the highest standard of roofing services to protect against the worst weather.

Working with Blue Nail Roofing means coming home to craftsmanship. From the first call to final inspection, we’re with you every step of the way to ensure you benefit from our experience. For more information or a free consultation, drop by our contact page or call 973-937-8876.

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