Snowfall Buildup on Roofs a Potential Issue for Homeowners

With the significant snowfall in the last few weeks, homeowners are reminded to monitor the amount of snowfall on their roofs.

An average house should be able to support 20 pounds per square foot of roof space before becoming stressed, which is about a foot of fresh snow or three to five inches of packed / old snow.

“All roofs are at risk, just depends on the pitch, material used (asphalt shingles, metal), type of construction (wood frame vs. metal) and age,” said Nick Arnoldy, owner/broker at Marshfield Insurance. “Most buildings have wood framed trusses and pitches of at least 3 inches of rise for every 12 inches of length (3:12). For those buildings that fit this bill, it is important to keep your roof cleared of excessive amounts of snow and ice as they will attribute to collapse and leaks.”

According to Arnoldy, signs of a stressed roof include sagging, cracks in exterior masonry (which can be a sign of bearing roof support which it is not typically designed to do), cracks in the ceiling or interior walls, doors and windows that won’t shut or are hard to open, unusual sounds (cracking or popping), and leaking.

He added that the weight of ice is more concerning as it is obviously more dense. One inch of ice equals the same weight of a foot of snow generally.

An ice dam, which is a large block of ice that forms along the lower edge of a roof, is formed by the melting snow off a (heated) roof. Ice dams are common, and signs include excessive amounts of icicle formations.

“When it hits the cold overhang, it freezes and can form a reservoir behind it, creating a sizable ice dam on the lower area of your roof,” he said. “This can eventually cause roof leaks by working its way underneath the shingles. Shingles are meant to shed water downward but when ice works its way upward it can easily compromise the shingled barrier and get behind your shingles causing water intrusion.”

Properly insulated houses and buildings typically don’t have issues, but as buildings age the insulation can fall and deteriorate.

“Do not attempt to climb on your roof and remove snow yourself – it is dangerous,” said Arnoldy. “Roofs typically have hidden ice underneath the snow and there is no way to know where those areas may be. Contractors have the proper equipment to clear roofs safely.”

Snow removal business Solutionz* uses tools to safely take the weight off of roofs and includes driveway cleanup afterwards.

Because of the changing angle of the sun, snow on roofs are beginning to melt, causing potential issues for homeowners. “Early in the season when the snow is cold, it blows off easily,” said Rich Hohl, Solutionz president. “Now it gets warm and so heavy, that it doesn’t move itself off.”

Buildup of snow can cause exhaust vent issues, making snow removal important. Mobile homes are at greater risk because the small roof area makes the roof more likely to buckle under the heavy weight. Also, the flatter the roof, the greater the risk for a collapse.

Contact Solutionz at 715-384-4720 to schedule a snow removal.