Winter On Long Island: Snow Roof

Let’s face it, the winter on Long Island has been rough on all of us. Snow, sleet, rain, cold, warm, then FREEZING! If you think it’s bad, just imagine how your roof feels. The roof on your home or office is exposed to all the elements and it’s the first place precipitation lands. There are a few different aspects of New York winter weather that can have adverse effects on your roof. Let’s explore them:

Temperature Fluctuation: We all love a warm day in January, especially after a spell of really low temperatures, but this has a big impact on your roof when the temperature drops again. Cold air contracts while hot air expands (think of a hot air balloon). This also goes for the structure of your home and your roof – the roof deck, shingles, flashing, they all contract when it gets cold, but on warmer days they expand. The more the temperature fluctuates between warm and cold weather, the more wear and tear on your roof. Homes on Long Island are not typically built for this.

Another way temperature fluctuation can impact your roof is the infiltration of moisture that turns to ice. When snow on your roof begins to melt and the moisture drains out from under the accumulation, it finds its way into smaller crevices and ridges in between shingles and flashing. When the temperatures drop again when the sun goes down, these small deposits freeze, causing the moisture to expand.This is the cause of winter roof problems and compounds existing roof structure issues.

icicles on roofIce Dams & Icicles: Ice dams are created when heat collected in your attic warms your roof. The ice and snow begin to melt but once they hit the eaves, the moisture cools down again and freezes up. The warm roof continues to melt the snow and ice continues to build up at the eaves causing icicles. While a beautiful symbol of winter, icicles spell major damage for your roof: tearing off gutters, loosening shingles or even worse, causing water to back up and pour into your home or office.[1]

Snow Overload: Blizzards are a part of winter on Long Island, dumping inches and even feet of snow and causing great snow drifts. In more exposed areas with less tree-cover, like the many housing developments we have on Long Island, snow drifts and gusts are more likely. When this happens, snow builds up, putting a lot of weight on your roof, often unevenly distributed. Smooth and steep roofs are ideal for fast drainage, but flat roofs or slightly pitched roofs are more vulnerable. Even more vulnerable are the flat and slightly-pitched roofs adjacent to smooth, steep, well draining roofs which drain off onto the garage, porch, or hastily-built home additions. This can cause roof leaks or worse, collapse.

So what can you do to prevent winter damage to your roof than necessary?

Fast Fixes:

1. Use a long-handle aluminum roof rake to pull down snow before it begins to melt. The extending arm allows you to remain safely on the ground while you remove any buildup of snow and ice, therefore preventing moisture build up and moisture from thawing and freezing up in crevices and ridges.

2. Have a fan running in your attic, pointed up towards the roof, keeping the roof cool and helping to prevent melting water. This will help prevent ice dams and icicles.

Long-Term Fixes

1. Insulate your attic from the rest of your home. This will keep the attic closer to the outdoor temperature, enabling the roof to stay cold enough to help prevent ice melt under snow accumulation.

2. Consider steel roofing. “It goes on fast, lasts a very long time and is recyclable” says Green Building Advisor, Martin Holladay.[2] Not only is it more sustainable, and therefore money-saving, It promotes easy and fast drainage without allowing moisture to get under shingles.

3. Change the slope of your roof. Have you been thinking of remodeling or updating your home? Here’s a great opportunity to increase the slope of your roof to prevent buildup of snow and moisture, and the headaches that come along with leaky or unstable roofs.

There is no stopping mother nature, that’s for sure. But if you take steps to lower the impact of winter precipitation on your roof, you’ll avoid some of the more costly, and far more damaging issues that can arise. Still not sure if your roof is weathering the storm? Have one of our inspectors come out to your home and assess the situation, as well as the impact on other parts of your home. Safe Harbor Inspections Inc provides thorough home inspections that provide great insight to the state of your home. Call 631-259-6607 to schedule a home inspection. For more related information click on this link:



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Hire an independent home inspector to protect your financial interests after ANY MAJOR STORM

After a major storm, get your own independent home inspection

We have had many damaging storms since Hurricane Sandy who have wreaked her damage on Long Island, and we have been asked to perform inspections for victims in order to document what particular physical components of the home need or needed to be replaced on an emergency basis. This involves looking at heating, air-conditioning, plumbing, electrical, structural conditions, appliances, roofing, walls and insulation, and any other systems that may have become compromised as a result of saltwater intrusion or wind/rain damage. By getting your own independent inspection, you will have photographic evidence of the conditions that existed at the time of the inspection. Even if certain repairs have been made prior to the inspection, the inspection report can properly document the situation for the authorities. This can ultimately help you obtain the best financial assistance available under the circumstances, whether it be from the government or from private insurance companies. It is to your benefit to obtain an independent inspection from a New York State licensed home Inspector who will act as your consultant and for your benefit.

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Aerial view of flooded housed and streets

Hurricane Flooding – what has to be replaced when damaged by salt water?

Hurricane Storms – what has to be replaced when damaged by salt water? What are the ramifications of salt water flooding in Long Island homes? South shore Long Island real estate got hammered by salt water flooding. The damage to real estate, fixtures and contents is immense. If the following items were flooded, assume total replacement:

1)      Boiler

2)      Hot water heater

3)      Electrical wiring

4)      Possibly gas pipes

5)      Oil tanks

6)      Some plumbing lines

7)      Insulation/sheetrock

8)      Carpeting

9)      Wood floors (usually)

10)   Cabinets and furniture

The list goes on and on. Consider getting an independent Long Island Home Inspector (Licensed by NY State) to document storm damage for insurance and FEMA reasons. These inspections are documented with photos and professional opinions about specific replacement items based on safety and functionality. Fires, explosions and mold are the ramifications of salt water flooding damage.

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Tree on a car

Hurricane Tree Damage to Homes on Long Island – how to prevent damage in the future

There have been hundreds, perhaps thousands of homes on Long Island that sustained damage from trees falling on houses during recent hurricanes. The damage ranges from minor to total destruction of the home. The repairs may be as simple as replacing a gutter, or something more substantial such as replacement of framing members in the structure.

Framing damage to a roof for example will require removal of the roofing shingles, removal of the plywood sheathing, and then removal of the damaged framing. Removal of the damaged framing requires very special expertise and usually special bracing in order to avoid more damage and even a partial collapse of the structure.

A general contractor is usually the way to go when having someone make substantial repairs. Make sure the contractor is licensed and insured. Check with the Better Business Bureau, and only pay enough of a down payment to get the contractor started. If the repairs are minor, a handyman can likely get the work done.

Large trees around the house should get checked every few years by a qualified tree specialist, otherwise known as an Arborist. An Arborist can truly assess the trees to make sure of their health and structural condition. As I’ve been doing home inspections on Long Island after Hurricane Sandy I’ve seen many trees that have fallen with hollow cores – no solid wood in the center of the tree trunk. The trees look normal from the outside, but are in fragile condition. That’s why an Arborist should check their condition on a regular basis.

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