Now that many communities across the United States have experienced snowfall this year, snow plows have been been spotted on the roads and rock salt is showing up in hardware stores. Next time the weather forecasters predict snow in your town, take a look around at the rooftops in your neighborhood. What you’ll probably notice is that some roofs will retain snow for many days following a storm, while other roofs will be bare in no time. So what is better: seeing that snow melt away or watching it stick around for a few days? Well the answer may surprise you. Snow that stays on your roof is actually a good indicator that your home is well insulated and properly ventilated. Commercial roofs are a whole different story.
Of course you do want that snow to melt eventually but that should be determined by the outside temperature, not by the temperature inside your home. If you do notice that snow on your roof is melting much faster than your neighbor’s, it’s likely caused by heat that is escaping into your attic and melting the snow from underneath. In fact, the temperature in your attic should match that of the outdoor air, not the temperature inside your home. When an attic floor is armed with a thick layer of insulation, the thermostat will keep the interior of your home at a comfortable temperature without having to overwork your heating system. But when insulation is minimal, the heat rises and escapes into the attic making your heater work overtime. This means your utility bill will likely take a hit.
Another possible complication of a hot attic? Snow melting off your warm roof, then refreezing during runoff as it hits the colder eaves. This leads to ice damns, or the formation of icicles to the untrained eye. While icicles might sparkle on a sunny, winter day, these crystal adornments are actually the symptom of a deeper problem. If the water from your roof is freezing as it hits the eaves and gutters, that means ice damns could be preventing the rest of the runoff to properly drain out the downspouts and away from your home. Water trapped on your roof can lead to all sorts of complications in the health & longevity of your roof. So the next time the weather calls for snow, take some time to make some observations about how your roof is handling the white stuff and consider taking a peak in your attic to determine how well insulated your home actually is.