Storms have swept across the US dumping snow on almost all fifty states. Throughout the country there have been many reports of snow causing roofs to cave-in. Residential roofs can face severe problems in these types of conditions because old snow does not get a chance to fully melt. Instead the snow melts slightly and freezes into a solid ice sheet. Since ice is more dense than snow it puts more strain on the integrity of the roof’s structure. This combination of snow and ice can add around 20 to 30 pounds per square foot.
Although it is nearly impossible to determine when a roof will collapse, there are a few signs that a roof is under added stress. Sagging ridgeline, drooping ceilings, leaking walls and ceilings, and jammed doors at the front or back of the house. Ice and snow will also form more quickly in areas that have low slopes and flat areas such as porches. If you hear creaking, cracking, or popping you should leave the home as quickly as possible because this is a strong indicator that your roof is ready to collapse. After leaving your home it is important to contact a professional roofing contractor and alert them to the situation. If the roof is fairly new and not damaged or decayed, the roof should be able to support 20 pounds per square foot of snow before it becomes distressed. The rule of thumb for how much weight is on your roof is one inch of ice, 3-5 inches of packed snow, 10-12 inches of fresh snow all equal 5 pounds per square foot.
Once snow or ice builds up on a roof, the best option for removal is purchasing a roof rake. These rakes feature an extendable handle which enables you to pull the snow and ice off of the roof without your feet leaving the ground. Start by removing the snow from the edge of the roof and work your way into the center using downward strokes. There’s no need to clean the roof entirely, remember removing one inch of ice is the same as removing 5 pounds. Blocked gutters and downspouts can cause ice dams, which will prevent the melting water from leaving a roof. Adding insulation to attic floors will prevent heat from escaping, which in turn will protect the roof from creating ice dams on the roof. Cleaning your gutters bi-annually will discourage the formation of ice dams. Before the first snow fall remove all leaves, twigs and debris that the fall creates. By creating ways for water to readily leave your roof, you will prevent ice formation from adding any stressful weight to your roofs structure.