There are a variety of potentially serious and costly problems that can happen when you allow too much snow to pile up on your roof: water damage, leakage and in some extreme cases, collapse. If you're a homeowner who lives in a wintry climate, it's important to understand how snow and ice can impact your roof, preventative measures, and when to take action.
How much snow buildup is safe?
This depends on the type of roof you have: it's harder for a flat roof to handle snow buildup, and if you have a sloped roof, the angle makes a difference. It also depends on the quality and condition of your roof is it well designed? Old? Has it been maintained? Finally, it depends on the type of snow: packed snow and wet snow are heavier than fresh or dry snow. The good news is that, depending on where you live, building codes require that your roof be able to handle quite a heavy load usually around 30-35 pounds per square foot. In the middle of winter, it's likely that you'll have some combination of ice, packed snow, and new snow on your roof but to give you a very general idea, 30-35 pounds equates to about two feet of wet/packed snow, or four feet of dry/new snow.
How do I know if my roof is compromised?
You don't have to wait until your roof collapses to identify and deal with a problem. Visually inspect your roof from both the inside and the outside to check for leaks, buckling, or cracks. It's also common to hear cracking or popping sounds if the roof is under too much stress.
Can I remove snow from my roof on my own?
Removing snow from your roof can be dangerous for obvious reasons. But if you absolutely insist on doing it yourself, purchase a "roof rake" with an expanding handle that will allow you to reach the roof from a safe distance (ideally, from the ground). If you can't do the job safely, hire a professional who is insured and has the right equipment.
What is an ice dam and how do I prevent it?
When the eaves of your home are dripping with icicles, there's probably an ice dam underneath. Ice dams occur when snow melts and flows downward, creating a "dam" in the eaves and gutters of your home. Ice dams can cause plenty of damage all by themselves; but they can also increase snow buildup. The best way to prevent ice dams is to make sure your attic is well insulated and stays cold the snow melt happens when you crank up the heat inside your home. Keeping your gutters free from debris and well maintained is also an important preventative measure.
For any home insurance related questions, call or contact Executive Insurance & Financial Services today.