The beauty of winter landscapes is not foremost on the minds of homeowners who have roofs full of heavy snow and ice. What may seem beautiful elsewhere can cause anxiety when one’s home is under a precipitation onslaught.
Excessive snow loads on a roof can cause the roof to leak or even collapse. The weight, and not the depth, of the snow is what determines if it needs to be removed from the roof. Fluffy snowmay not be problematic, as it can take around seven times as much dry snow to equal the weight of wet snow.
After a snowstorm, go outside and lift a few shovelfuls of snow. If it’s back-breaking work, then the snow on your roof may be dangerous.
Homes built to code can typically handle the snow and ice load that comes with the winter season. However, homes that have undergone unapproved renovations, or those where load-bearing walls have been removed from the interior may be susceptible to catastrophic roof collapses.
Another problem homeowners face this time of year is ice dams, which occur when snow on the roof melts slightly and then refreezes, forming thick portions of ice usually at the edges of the roof by the gutters. Ice dams can divert melting snow in and under roofing shingles instead of through gutters and downspouts.
A common contributor to ice dams is inadequate ventilation and insulation in attics. Heat from the interior of the home that rises into the attic can cause the roof to warm up enough to melt thesnow. This is easily remedied by having ample insulation and ensuring proper ventilation of the attic to maintain temperatures cool enough to prevent underside melting of snow.
Signs of a problem
If you experience any leaks from the ceiling or notice water coming down walls, a roof leak from excess snow or ice dams may be the culprit. Snow that is too heavy may create cracks in plaster and drywall and cause sagging that affects the framework of interior doorways. If you hear creaking or popping sounds, immediately exit the house, as these are strong indicators of an imminent collapse.
Clearing the roof:
The Better Business Bureau warns against going up on the roof if you cannot safely remove the snow with an ice rake or similar tool. You should not jeopardize your health by trying to remove snow and ice.
Confirm that contractors who remove snow have current liability and worker’s compensation insurance before hiring them. Contractors will charge anywhere from $60 to $300 per hour to remove snow from the roof. *Always inquire in advance as to what a fee covers.
Even after snow is removed, there’s no guarantee it will not accumulate again. Keep in mind that some snow and ice removal remedies can invalidate the warranty on recently installed roof shingles. This is something that must be weighed before proceeding with snow removal.
Home insurance policies may or may not cover the cost of snow removal and damage. Call your insurance company to find out what your policy covers. Keep good records for the cost of all repairs to see if you can be reimbursed.