Snow on your driveway, snow on your walkways, snow on your porch steps – it’s all a big pain in the rear. Unless, of course, you use TLC’s snow removal services to take care of keeping that snow cleared.
But whether you remove that snow or we remove that snow – it gets removed. That’s because that snow is a problem. It impedes access to your car. It makes moving about your property difficult and dangerous. It must be cleared. So whenever there’s a heavy snowfall, the snow always gets cleared from your walkways and driveway.
But there’s one part of your property that probably rarely gets cleared of snow. In fact, it’s likely that you never even give thought to clearing that snow – a neglect that might one day invite disastrous consequences.
The Snow On Your Roof
Usually the snow that collects upon your rooftop is not a problem – unless there’s a very heavy snowfall. But heavy snowfalls happen with regularity, and some roofs are damaged every winter.
One foot of snow on the roof of an average-sized house can weigh nearly 10 tons. And if there’s ice in the mix the problem is greatly compounded. Just one inch of ice is the equivalent in weight of one foot of snow.
How do you know if your roof is at risk of being damaged in a heavy snowfall? If any of these characteristics describe your roof, then it’s at greater risk of sustaining snow load damage:
The entire roof is flat or shallow-pitched.
A portion of the roof is flat or shallow-pitched, and underlies a steeper-pitched portion of the roof (snow can slide off the steep slope and collect on the shallow or flat slope).
The roof is exposed to the wind without sheltering windbreaks, making it susceptible to collecting drifts of snow.
The roof has sustained some form of structural deterioration: termite damage, fire damage, wood rot, or previous snow-weight damage.
In most municipalities, building codes require that homes be built to withstand snow loads suitable for the area. So if you’re in a newer home, odds are good that you’ll be OK in all but the most severe of winter storms.
But if you’re in an older home, the building codes may have been less conservative at the time your home was built. And a certain degree of structural degradation can occur with age. So while all homeowners should be alert for the risk of roof damage during a major winter storm, owners of older homes should be particularly watchful for signs of snow-load stress.
A foray into the attic can offer some clues as to how your roof is handling its snow load. If the rafters in the attic are visibly bent under the weight of the snow, that’s obvious cause for concern. Groaning or popping sounds can also indicate that the roof is overstressed.
And sometimes the weight of the snow can even distort the frame of the house. A warning sign of this condition is a door or window that becomes difficult to open or close, or cracks appearing in walls.
What To Do?
In many cases, using a roof snow rake with an extension pole will remove enough snow to alleviate the excess weight – especially since there’s no need to remove all the snow. A snow rake works best with freshly fallen snow, before it’s become packed. And a snow rake is unlikely to do any good at all at removing ice loads.
But DON’T EVEN THINK about using a snow rake from a ladder, or climbing onto the roof. Those are mistakes that injure or kill homeowners every year. If you can’t remove enough snow while standing on the ground, then call a professional snow removal service.
According to a very old saying, if something is out-of-sight, it tends to also be out-of-mind. That’s just human nature. But during times of heavy winter precipitation, try to stay alert to the amount of snow or ice accumulating on your roof.
Don’t let the sudden rending shriek of collapsing rafters become the reminder that rooftop snow load should be regularly monitored.