Preventing Roof Damage from Ice and Snow

Nov 17 2014

With the arrival of winter temperatures and severe winter weather in some places in the U.S, thinking about your home’s resistance to ice and snowfall is important. In particular, evaluating the condition of your roof is essential to protecting the home from the weight of winter snow and ice accumulation. You should begin to assess the risk for roof damages by estimating how much weight your roof can support, how much the snow pack on your roof weigh, and understanding how this relates to the slope of your roof. Taking each of these factors into account will help you assess any risks to your roof as a result of snow and ice pack and help you determine the best course of action to prevent roof damage from winter weather. Here are some helpful tips to reduce the risks of roof damage.

Understand the Weight of Snow

Snow and ice place a considerable weight burden on your roof as they accumulate. Fresh snowfall adds weight to existing snow pack on the roof and can further stress the structure. A layer of ice can add even more weight to the snow, so knowing how all of this weight combines and affects your roof is important to protecting your home. Fresh snow has an equivalent of water in inches. For example, 10-12 inches of fresh snow is roughly one inch of water. 3-5 inches of packed snow is equivalent to about one inch of water.

Considering this weight that comes from existing and fresh snow will help you assess the burden on your roof. Just a couple of feet of old snow beneath a couple more feet of fresh snow could equal well over 60 pounds per square foot of roof space, making the weight beyond support capacity for many roofs. What’s more, for every inch of ice, you get the equivalent weight of one foot of fresh snow. As this ice melts, it can also lead to water damage on the roof.

Snow and Ice Removal

Making efforts to remove snow and ice from the roof is important to keeping this snow pack from imposing too much weight on your roof structure. Based on your assessment of how much existing snow, fresh snow, and ice are on your roof, you may need to clear some of the weight off the roof to protect it from damage. Use a snow rake with a long extension arm to enable you to safely clear the snow off the roof from the ground.

If your roof is especially large or difficult to access with a snow rake, you may need to contact a snow removal contractor to remove the snow. If there has been a significant snowstorm and heavy accumulation of your roof, you will likely need to remove some of the weight from the roof. In many regions of heavy yearly snowfall, roofs may be designed to resist greater depths of snow.

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