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Mike Lofaro2 min read

Heavy Snow Load of Roofs - Avoiding Disaster

Annual snow totals can reach from a few feet to well over that depending on the winter in Connecticut. If it rains or sleets after a snowfall it makes the snow load on the roof even heavier. As we’ve seen this past week in Buffalo – snow load can lead to big problems.

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One cubic foot of dry snow weights about 6-8 pounds, but one cubic foot of packed snow could weigh up to 20 pounds. If it's ice instead of snow it can weigh up to 3 times more than that.

Winter around here over the past few years has seen an uptick in snow load…not only the amount of snow, but the fact that it sticks around. Colder days following heavy snowfall can compound the weight effect on your roof.

Wind driven snow can cause steep drifts in spots on your roof. This can result in an exceptionally heavy spot. A slow steady snow can create and even load over the entire roof. Not to mention the dreaded ice dam. All of these scenarios can lead to stress on your roof.

Flat or low pitched roofs are the most vulnerable for buckling under heavy snow loads and ice accumulations. These roofs are typically found on industrial buildings; however some residential homes also have this design.

If you aren't sure if your home is in danger of heavy snow loads, here are a few signs to pay attention to. If you see your roof sagging or leaking you will want to contact your local building or fire official immediately. If you spot cracked or split wood members, bends or ripples in supports, cracks in walls or masonry, or bowed utility pipes attached at the ceiling. Beginning signs of heavy snow loads are doors that pop open or doors/windows that are difficult to open.

What to do?

Use a snow rake for pitched roofs to remove the snow from your roof. Start from the edge and work your way into the roof. Try to shave the snow down to 2-3 inches on the roof rather than scraping it clean - this reduces the damage to your shingles or other roof covering. Metal tools will do damage to your roof.

Be sure to remove large icicles if they are hanging over doorways or walkways and  Keep gutters and drains clean and free of ice and snow

Don't use a ladder - ice builds up on the rungs of the ladder and the soles of your boots. Not a good combo. Don't use electric heating devices like hair dryers to remove snow and ice. And this goes without saying…don't use open-flame devices to remove snow and ice.

Proper airflow at the ridge and the eave of the roof is necessary for
a longer roof life. Ventilation solves problems such as moisture accumulation, ice dams, saves heating and cooling costs, and much more.