While flat roofs are less common homes in New England, it’s possible you’ve forgotten about that deck outside your master bedroom or over the garage. Flat roofs are flat in comparison to more traditional sloped roofs, but they do have a slight pitch to help rainwater roll off the roof through scuppers at the edge of the roof. They also need some extra attention to avoid problems over the winter, so we’re sharing tips that can help in preventing ice dams on your flat roof.
Flat roofs tend to collect more rain, snow and debris than traditional roofs, which means you’ve got to pay special attention to making them safe year round, and especially in the winter. So we’ve collected the best tips for preparing your flat roofs for winter … things you want to do before the first snowfall.
Preventing Ice Dams on Flat Roofs
Most of the advice comes from property management companies servicing commercial buildings, but there’s lots of good information for homeowners too.
- Sweep the roof to remove debris that’s collected there, like leaves, twigs and small branches. That’s because debris will allow water to pool on your roof, increasing the chance of water leaks. Don’t apply too much pressure when sweeping, to avoid damaging the roofing membrane or its’ protective coating.
- Clean out the cage-like drain hubs where leaves, dirt and debris tend to collect on the roof.
- Remove the drain hubs, and clean out the drains. Use a garden hose with a high-pressure attachment, to make sure they’re clean as you want rain and melting snow to get off your roof as quickly as possible. If you find a drain clogged, try using a plumber’s snake to dislodge it.
- Cut back tree limbs hanging over the roof before winter hits. This will reduce the chance of broken limbs damaging your roof and reduce the amount of debris that will collect on the roof over the winter.
- Inspect your roof for holes, indentations and compromised seams. Standing water will indicate low areas that need to be fixed. Check the roof’s caulking where it roof meets masonry walls, skylights, etc. and replace anything that’s cracked or shows signs of gaps.
- Inspect your roof for blisters, mushy pockets or cracked surfaces, which may indicate the need for a new application of roofing tar. Contact a professional roofing contractor for repairs, if needed.
- Schedule periodic inspections through the winter, to make sure ice and snow are not piling up in specific areas. Have a plan for snow removal when too much snow can impact the roof’s structural integrity.
Signs You Need More Help Preventing Ice Dams
Icicles hanging along the edge of your roof, are an indication that water is freezing on the roof before it can run off. When you see icicles hanging down, then you likely have ice dams forming above them which you don’t want. It’s also possible that you’ve got warm air escaping through seams where your roof meets masonry like a chimney. In both cases, you want to find a solution like our ice dam prevention system, to eliminate these problems.