Have you ever watched inches or even feet of snow accumulate on your roof and wondered whether it’s compromising your home’s structural integrity? If so, you’re not alone. In this article, we’ll examine when to worry about the snow on your roof and how to deal with a problem if it arises.
How much snow is too much for my roof?
We have some good news for you. Most roofs are built to support heavy loads of snow without any problems. So, it’s likely that you will never have to worry about removing snow from your roof. In fact, building codes require residential roofs to be built to withstand the heaviest snows for their region. This means if your home was built and your roof professionally designed and installed to code, you shouldn’t have a problem.
How can I tell if the snow is too heavy?
Of course, there are rare instances in which snow loads can cause problems. For example, if your roof was not built to code, is very old, or hasn’t undergone proper maintenance, it may not have the same load capacity as one that is well maintained and complies with current building codes. Additionally, an unusually large accumulation of wet snow could become heavy enough to cause roof damage. Snow loads are most likely to cause issues for roofs that are flat or gently pitched, as snow can more easily slide down and off steeper roofs.
Check upper-floor doors and frames.
You can determine whether the snow on your roof is excessive and potentially problematic by examining your home's interior. Check the doors on the uppermost floor that are closest to the center of the home. These are often bedroom, attic, or closet doors. If you notice them beginning to stick or becoming harder to open and close, then you may have a snow weight problem that you should deal with as soon as possible. Another good place to inspect is around the frames of these doors; check for cracks in the plaster or drywall. Again, you are unlikely to find this unless you have had home renovations done without a permit, such as the removal of an interior weight-bearing wall. If you do, however, it’s a sign that a roof collapse could occur if the issue isn’t addressed in time.
Should I remove the snow myself or hire a pro?
When your roof needs attention in the winter, you should almost always call in the professionals. The only time it may be safe for most homeowners to remove snow from the roof in the winter is if the home is one-story and the snow can be removed by working from the ground with a snow rake. Performing roofing work when it’s snowy and icy is very dangerous for non-professionals who lack the training, experience, and safety equipment that professionals have. Don’t risk your life to save a bit of cash.
Be aware that when you call the professionals, they will not remove all the snow from your roof but will remove enough to relieve the excess weight. The bottom layer of ice, which is often sealed tightly to the roof for the winter, should remain, as removing it could cause damage. If you attempt to remove snow yourself, simply slide off some of the piled-up snow to relieve your roof of some of the weight. Resist the urge to pull off too much, which could damage shingles and cause leaks and water damage in the home.
Iowa homes are no strangers to snow accumulation. To withstand the winter’s worst, however, roofs should be professionally installed and regularly maintained. For more professional roofing tips, subscribe to Hedrick Construction’s blog.