Harsh Effects of Canadian Winters

If you live in Ottawa, you’ve likely experienced some of the harshest winters Canada has to offer. Where heavy snowfalls and variable temperatures are expected, the constant freezing and thawing patterns can take an immense toll on your home– making the winter season the most damaging to your property. So what causes the most damage? Read below on what you’ll want to avoid, and how you can prepare your home for the winter months.

Ice Dams

Ice dams are particularly troublesome for homes because the forming and melting can lead to serious roof and insulation damage. Heat escapes from your home when your insulation and ventilation aren’t properly functioning, leading to leaks and other issues. One of the biggest problems with ice dams is that they have the ability to work their way underneath the roof shingles and rip gutters off your home. The icicles can grow large enough to break loose. Falling icicles can damage lower roofs and vehicles, and in some cases injure people or pets.


Snow Buildup

There are several different reasons that snow buildup is a problem: it can cause roof and insulation damage, lead to foundation issues, and even result in flooding. With the additional weight of the snow putting stress on your roof, it can create a detrimental situation for roof leakage. One way to help prevent this is investing in a roof rake for snow removal. If there’s a significant snowfall, call a professional for snow removal services. By pulling some of the snow off of the edges of your roof, water is able to drain off of the roof and down the eavestrough away from the home. Consider investing in Alu-rex brand gutter covers, that work to keep your gutter from freezing over in order to allow a smooth flow of drainage. Alternatively, in continuous problem areas, heat cables can be installed in the gutters and downspouts to keep them thawed during winter.

Roof Damage 

Snow can actually add an extra layer of insulation to your roof if you’ve installed durable, high-quality materials. However, in severe cases, too much snow and ice could cause roofs (especially flat roofs) to leak or collapse. Roof damage will lead to significant insulation damage causing mould, mildew, rotting, and the risk of pipes freezing and cracking.


Sometimes snow and ice buildup can be most damaging when temperatures start to rise. Melting ice and snow can leak through weak roofing or cracks in the foundation of a house and cause leaks into the ceiling and flooding in the basement. The flooding problem will continue to get worse if it is not addressed right away.

Our Advice:

Effective Attic Insulation

Your attic should be well insulated. Heat rises, and your ceiling is your last line of defence before the heat seeps into the attic. Ensure your attic has at least 18.5-21.5 inches of carefully blown-in fibreglass insulation. The space should be adequately sealed from the rest of the house with a vapour barrier as well. If it’s not adequately sealed and insulated, you run the risk of cold seeping back down, and your expensive heat rising up through the cracks.

Eliminate Draughts

Are you feeling a breeze throughout your home? This is the last thing you want on a cold winter day. Make sure your windows, doors, wall switches and outlets are effectively sealed, and have a professional check your attic for potential air leaks and necessary air sealing, and assess the quality and effectiveness of your insulation.

Roof Repairs

Though re-roofing takes place through spring, summer, and fall, it is always advisable to begin exploring your options. Markelangelo’s begins quoting for roofing services in March, but if you are having your insulation updated this winter, our team can assess for any major evidence of leaks or rotting from the inside, and revisit you within a few months to address the damage as soon as possible.

Keep Up With Your Home Maintenance

Aside from the home improvements listed above, it’s always a good time to have your vents and ducts cleaned to ensure free-flowing air. Consider getting your furnace cleaned and in working order, before the winter reaches its lowest temperatures– but it’s never too late if you haven’t done this in a while. You should already have a schedule in place for replacing your furnace filter on a monthly basis. Lastly, consider having your attic ventilation checked at any time of the year to better prepare your home for the heat and cold.

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With decades of both shingle and flat roof experience, our team of specialists are always ready to help. Contact us today and we’ll will be happy to visit your home and provide you with a free, no pressure, roofing consultation.
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