Look up, look way up: Warmer weather may bring roof problems for homeowners

The temperature in Edmonton is set to rise next week which could cause problems on your roof.

'You want to make sure that there's no ice buildup,' says roofing company manager

This worker wears a harness and tether while tackling the dangerous job of clearing snow from a roof. (Dave Bajer/CBC)

With warmer weather finally around the corner, Edmonton homeowners need to start thinking about the condition of the roofs over their heads.

Highs around 5 C are forecast for next week, which means melting snow could put a damper on spring celebrations.

Homeowners should keep an eye on their roofs for ice damming and other problems, Jeremiah Dunlop, general manager of A. Clark Siding and Roofing, told CBC News in an interview.

What to watch for in ice dam season

3 years ago
With the weather warming up, ice dams can form on your roof. Jeremiah Dunlop with A. Clark Siding and Roofing describes what to look for and ways to deal with ice dams. 1:34

"You'll see it usually along the eaves the lower parts of your roof," he said. "You'll see it at the bottom layer and when it starts turning into icicles and things like that, you know you're getting into a lot of problems."

Dunlop explained some of the potential issues while one of his workers shoveled snow off a nearby roof.

"When you have a lot of snow on your roof and it starts to melt, it turns into water, turns into ice, and it goes back and forth as we go through the freeze-thaw cycle," he said.

"What happens is you start to get a build up of ice and that ice starts to push, and the water starts to track into places that it normally shouldn't go. You want to m
Jeremiah Dunlop explains the impact of melting snow on roofs. (Dave Bajer/CBC)
ake sure that there's no ice build up, especially in a lot of the sensitive areas like valleys, around vents and stuff like that."

When ice prevents air flow to the attic, that can result in condensation.

"If you're getting condensation you're usually getting frost and ice inside of your attic," Dunlop said. "And when that melts, it looks like it's leaking. But really, it's just the condensation that builds up from the heat and moisture from your house going into your attic."

Preventive measures can help, such as making sure the attic has adequate insulation and venting.

Jeremiah Dunlop of A. Clark Siding and Roofing recommends using a telescopic rake to safely remove snow from roofs. (Dave Bajer/CBC)

Removing snow from the roof is a good idea, but Dunlop recommends hiring a professional to do it as it can be dangerous.

For those determined to do it themselves, he suggests using a telescopic snow rake, so the job can be performed from the ground.

The potential severity of the problems will be dictated by the weather.

"We're going to have to endure this week with a few negative afternoon temperatures but we see, finally, some melting, warm temperatures," Environment Canada meteorologist David Phillips said.

"So we start melting that snow, there's 38 centimetres of snow sitting on the ground. You've got to melt that, get the look of winter out of the way."

There's little doubt that most Edmontonians are hoping for the temperature to quickly rise and stay there but Phillips believes a slow melt is beneficial.

"You don't want to go from slush to sweat because that will create standing water, it will create flood problems," he said.

"What you want is almost like maple syrup kind of weather where it melts during the day and freezes at night."


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?