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December 21, 2021

Problems with a Snowy Roof?

In many areas of the US, snow accumulation can be significant over the winter months. If a significant snowstorm occurs, the amount of snow produced may be too much for a roof to handle. It is also possible that multiple, smaller snow storms without a period of melting in between can result in heavy snow on the roof. Even just a few inches at a time can eventually add up if the snow doesn’t have the opportunity to melt at all during the winter months. How do you know if your roof has too much snow and what do you do if you are concerned? 

First, most roofs are made to handle more snow than would be expected in a normal winter season. So, it is only the abnormal amounts of snow that would be a concern. The slope of the roof is intended to allow the snow to slide off before it has a chance to get very deep. In addition, roofs in winter climates have closely spaced rafters to provide strength. 

Roofs that would be of concern are those that are flat or only slightly pitched. In addition roofs that are not sheltered from the wind may have drifting so that localized areas of the roof end up with more snow than they can handle. 

In some cases, a shallow roof is adjacent to a steep roof so the snow from the steep roof falls on the shallow roof causing an issue. This is typically seen over porches, carports or additions that were not well designed.  
house with icicles
Finally, a roof with previous issues that caused it to weaken may not be able to handle the snow. If damage by a fire, termites or rot, the strength may not be adequate and replacement is necessary.  

Look for the following signs that indicate a problem is present: 

  • The attic rafters are severely bent due to the snow weight. 

  • You hear cracking or popping from the rafters. 

  • The frame of the house has shifted resulting in a jammed door. 

  • Unexpected water leaks on the ceilings or walls are observed. 

If you are concerned about the safety of your roof, you may feel that you should remove snow from the roof to prevent collapse. Keep in mind the following tips: 

  • Never climb on your roof in the winter. It is too dangerous.  

  • Use a roof rake with an extension pole from ground level. 

  • If you don’t have a roof rake, do not use a garden rake instead. You will damage the shingles. Use something soft like a broom or hire a professional. 

  • Don’t worry about removing every flake of snow. Your goal is to ease the load so if some snow remains, you have still made an improvement. 

For most homes, the snow will not cause too heavy a load on the roof. Keep in mind that the snow is likely to slide off or melt within a few days of landing on the roof. If you are concerned, be sure to keep yourself safe and avoid further damage to your roof by properly removing the excess snow. 

Protect your home during winter’s worst. Call Barnette and Coates Insurance at (828) 692-8277 for more information on home insurance.  

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