Remember Snowmageddon?


If you were here at the time, you know what I am talking about. Remember the impact on your roof and gutters? Or maybe you recently relocated to DC from warmer climes and are stumped when your neighbor brings it up. For both veterans of DC winter weather and relative newcomers, let me set the table.

Snowmageddon, Snowpocalypse, Snowzilla are portmanteaus (linguistic blends of words) of the word snow with either Armageddon, Apocalypse or Godzilla respectively. You can look it up, it is straight out of Wikipedia.

While it is said Snowmageddon was first coined in 2007 in Minneapolis, The Washington Post takes local ownership of the term before, during and after the infamous blizzard of February 5-6. 2010. There you have it: a DC winter history lesson.

Winter 2018 is not far off, of course, and “Wintry chill, wet and white” is the local forecast. I am cold just thinking about it. This means it is time to make sure your roof system is prepared so you can avoid the nightmare scenario faced by homeowners in the winter of 2010.

What am I talking about? Winter events bring a significant potential for major external and internal damage, and homeowners should be legitimately concerned that their roofs are not ready for what may lie ahead. Ice, snow and wind can bring all kinds of home and roof damage that include:

  • Leaky ceilings and windows caused by gaps and cracks in roofs, flashing, skylights and windows
  • Flooded basements from gutter and spout overflow created by ice dams
  • Falling tree branches from wind and ice, causing punctured roofs and broken skylights
  • Wall caps (parapets) and flashing blown off

And the list goes on.

With this sampling of what can happen, what are you going to do about it? I call it Winter Roof Prep 101.

  • If it hasn’t already been done, get your gutters and spouts cleaned out and unclogged. Water will travel, and if gutters or spouts are clogged it will go places you don’t want it to go.
  • Have your entire roof system checked to see if repairs may be needed. This includes the roof, flashing, chimneys (flashing, caps, loose mortar) skylights, hatch tops, vent pipes, ducts, wiring that penetrates the roof. Get those gaps and cracks taken care of.
  • Check the windows and doors for gaps, which may allow water inside especially if snow or ice have accumulated around the edges. Caulk or weather-stripping may be the solution.
  • Consider having trees pruned if they extend over the roof. Leaves can fall into the gutter and branches can penetrate the roof and cause leaks.

Before we finish this roofing-prep section, have you heard the term ice dam? Or maybe you have heard the term Ice, damn! That is a term used by roofers. Either way, it was prevalent in Snowmageddon of 2010 and many other DC winters.

Ice dams are continuous chunks of ice that form along the edges of the roof. While frozen they don’t cause much trouble. But during the warmer parts of a winter day, water melting off the roof pools behind the ice then seeps back under the roof. Water can work its way five or even 10 feet back under the roof into the soffits and worst of all onto your ceilings and into your house. At night the water will re-freeze and the same process will continue over and over.

If you see water stains or sagging ceilings, you know you have a problem. Do you know what often causes it? Clogged gutters or spouts, which prevent the water from properly draining off the roof. Get your roof checked out now before it is too late to avoid this type of damage.

Tom Daniel is owner and general manager of R. Thomas Daniel Roofing LLC and is the third generation of the family to provide roofing services to Capitol Hill homeowners. Tom was born on Capitol Hill and supports numerous community organizations. For help with your roofing needs he can be reached at 202-569-1080, 202-544-4430 or