The Columbia River Gorge, coastal ranges, and Cascade range all see snow and ice during the Winter season. Snow making its way to the ground in the greater Portland metro and other cities on the I-5 corridor is rarer. However, no matter where you live, heavy snowfall could present roof problems.
Snow guards are one way to prevent a massive avalanche of snow from falling off your roof. But in most areas of the Pacific Northwest, these are often thought of as overkill. They allow small amounts of snow to slide off bit by bit or hold it in place until it melts. They can be used on metal, composite, slate, and other roofing materials.
There’s only one way to prevent any amount of snow from falling on unsuspecting homeowners or visitors when you have a composite roof: Take it down yourself. There are plenty of snow rakes on the market with telescoping handles to reach even two-story roofs. Many people also use snow wires to gently easy large amounts of snow on the roof.
Depending on the pitch of your roof, you may even be able to brush the snow off yourself. The lower the pitch, the harder it will be for the snow to come down by itself. However, this can be a very risky way to remove the snow and is not advisable if ice is present.
With aluminum roofing, there is rarely any need to remove the snow yourself. As snow accumulates, the snow will usually slide off on its own with little to no prompting. These amounts are small enough to prevent damage to landscaping below or anyone caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Advantages of Metal Roofing in the Snow
Although the Pacific Northwest does get its fair share of dry, wind-swept snow, the thick wet flakes are a little more common. This snow weighs much more, and along with icy conditions, can turn large tree limbs into brittle overhead dangers. For weak roofing structures, it could lead to collapses.
For clay, cement, or slate tiles, the snow load can cause very precarious situations that could need immediate attention. Aluminum roofing on the other hand is the lightest roofing material available. At 42 pounds for 100 square feet, your roof is already handling less weight than it was designed for.
Composite roofing can come in at around 180 pounds per roof square (100 square feet) while slate or cement tile roofing can come in at 1,000 pounds per roof square! In fact, many structures need to be rated for certain weights to even use those materials. There are no such worries with aluminum roofing.
The Good and Bad of Accumulating Snow
If the snow is only a few inches deep on your roof, it’s actually a pretty easy way to tell if your roof is well-insulated. Does the snow stick around when it’s still below 30 outside? That means your attic is well-insulated. If it melts, that means heat is escaping through your roof, increasing your heating costs.
If there is a lot of snow on your roof, it may not be as easy to tell. Let’s say there is snow accumulation of five or six inches. You may not be able to tell if the snow is melting where it meets the roof. The melting snow meets ice formed at the roof overhang. This can refreeze water.
These are known as ice dams, and cause water to back up under the shingles. With standard composite, cedar shake, or other types of roofing material, that water will refreeze, potentially lifting nails and allowing water to pour into the walls of your home.
Unfortunately, it all happens under the snow and out of sight of homeowners. When the snow finally melts, you may see some frayed roof edges along the gutter line. That is one indication that ice dams were present. If there will be two or three more months of snow and thaw cycles, you’ll need to take action soon.
With metal roofing, ice dams are of little concern because excess snow or ice will just slide off. In fact, there are products that keep snow from accumulating too much. For example, heating elements that can be installed under the roofing to keep any accumulation from happening in areas of large snowfalls.
Work With The Pros
Mountaintop Metal Roofing has 20 years of experience installing aluminum roofing around Washington and Oregon. We’ve seen what massive amounts of snow can do to traditional roofing and just how well our roofing system works in the snow – if it’s installed correctly.
That’s why we offer a non-prorated, transferable lifetime warranty on all of our roofing installations. That’s how confident we are with all of our PermaLock aluminum roofing products during all four seasons we experience in the Pacific Northwest. Interested in learning more? Request a free quote today.