Old Man Winter decides to give us a break!

Wow this has been is a brutal winter.

Most of us are groaning about how awful this winter has been, or shall I say still is. I on the other hand am grateful that the winter is sticking around a bit longer. I think of this winter as a boxing match between nature and people, so far we are in the tenth round and nature has us against the ropes so to speak. All that would be needed for nature to really win would be to have a quick warm up and melt.

I live on an acreage out of town and my property is on the low corner of a quarter section. This means that each year about this time my property is inundated with spring run off which covers about 45% of my property. Looking out my window to the north I can see vast fields of white. The fear for me this year is that the white stuff is or was about three feet thick. I anticipated a catastrophe if we had a quick thaw. Fortunately nature has failed to throw the knock out punch, so far anyway. Temperatures of -6  to +2 are about perfect for a slow melt, and I for one am grateful.

Even though we will make it through this winter we have definitely come out with a few bruises. I have personally inspected several homes that have experienced the effects of ice damming. Last week I viewed a home where the homeowners will need to completely gut out their sunroom as the walls and ceiling are soaked from the ice build up and melt through their roof.  This family said the have never had any leaks in the past 22 years.  I inspected a home this week that had evidence on the outside of ice damming. Walking on the roof I began to slide on loose rock left when the ice melted.  A walk in the attic confirmed wet eaves and mold on the sheathing. If you experienced some of these negative effects of this years weather and need free advice on what steps to take, give me a call and I will help if I can.

Try to avoid the Avalanche of Snow

It’s that time again and the winter white stuff has arrived all too early in my opinion. With the snow comes some hidden hazards that I thought I would bring to your attention.  We all understand the weight of water but most of us think of snow as being light and harmless.  When we get heavy snow falls like we have recently it is common to have large accumulations on our roofs.  If you are like me and have a steel roof it is an acute hazard to have all that snow up above your head. Even shingled roofs can have snow slides if the roof is steep and conditions are right. If you have ever been up close to see snow slide off a roof you will know how powerful and heavy this can be.  Trust me when I say you do not want to be under that mini avalanche as you could wind up badly hurt.

One solution to this problem is to carefully shovel the snow off but this in itself can be dangerous as many people have been hurt trying to remove the threat.  Removing snow from a roof can also damage shingles if not done carefully. Use a roof scoop which is designed to drag the snow off the roof with minimal damage to the shingles. The best solution on a metal roof is to install snow guards near the eave. The snow guard will hold back the snow and or slice it up into smaller pieces when it does slide so it is less dangerous to the people below.  Besides the threat of falling snow there is also the weight of the snow to consider. If you remove the snow from your roof be sure not to overload your deck in the process.  If in the process of removing snow you find there is a lot of ice built up on the shingles do not attempt to break it free as it will come off with the shingles so it is best to leave it there.  There are other reasons the ice is damming on the roof that I will write about next week. Until then be safe.

Metal Roof Snow Gaurds

Your roof needs to be closely inspected

The roof of a home is perhaps the most critical component of the home yet it is the most over looked even by inspectors. The current trend in inspection training is for the trainers to recommend that no-one walk on the roof during the inspection in case they fall. Well this may be good advice from a safety standpoint they are missing the point of the inspection in my humble opinion. If the inspector cannot take risks during the inspection they better come up with a robot that can do the job while the inspector sits in the truck.

I am being a bit silly of course but it is critically important to get a close up look at the shingles and roof penetrations and flashings during the inspection. While it is true that some roofs are not safe to walk on, I would say I get on about 97% of them. .  If you drive around the country side and see the old abandoned  farm houses you will notice the ones with good roofs are still standing straight and tall. The others have leaks in the roof and are leaning and falling down.

Your inspection report should contain several photos of the roofing with close up shots of problem areas if they exist. It is almost impossible to find issues from the eaves or from the ground. If a roof is leaking all kinds of problems arise. Mold, staining and poor insulation performance are just a few of the most common results. If the shingles are cupping and curling it could be from poor ventilation of the attic space. Missing shingles are difficult to spot from below but can have devastating results if not corrected. Overall the roof needs to be closely inspected if you do not do this it would be like buying a used vehicle without checking the oil.


I was recently inspecting a commercial building and noted a large section of shingles missing from the roof. It occurred to me that this damage likely happened during Mondays storm. Fromissing shinglesm the ground I could not see any damage but when I walked on the roof (which I always endeavor to do) I quickly noticed the problem. In this case the shingles remained on the roof. Often you will see the torn shingles on the ground. If you notice any shingles on the ground it is time to do some repairing ASAP. if you let this type of issue go even for a short time it could cost you a lot of money down the road. Remember to hire only qualified contractors to fix your shingles as a poor repair is not much better then no repair. Shingles are designed to be easily repaired so get it fixed yourself or hire it done so I don’t need to come out later on to do mold and air quality testing.


From my experience I have noticed two major causes of early shingle wear outside of the obvious wind storms etc. Can you guess what they are? The first is tree branches rubbing on the shingles. As most of you know asphalt shingles are essentially just tar and fibers of gravel and glass and it doesn’t take much to wear this off especially on a warm day when the tar is soft. I have seen entire roofs that need replaced 10 – 15 years early due to this. The second culprit is builders who design the eaves troughs in such a way  that the upper roof drains onto the lower roof. While you might think this is insignificant just watch the extra water pouring down the roof in a heavy storm. I would say that the additional water in these cases can destroy the localized shingles at least 5 years sooner. A little extra work and you can prevent this.  I came across this downspout in an inspection this week, this is how it should be done but I rarely see it even in new construction.