When is it Time to Clear Your Roof of Snow?
Every home is different, but it is best to understand the weight your roof can bear during the winter months. Some climates may have a mixture of weather that consists of mild to freezing temperatures, snow, ice pellets, and even rain. Despite their ability to withstand heavy snowfalls, it is essential to routinely clear snow from your roof. A failure to do so may eventually result in ice dams causing water infiltration or more dangerous problems like roof collapses.
Do you know when you should remove snow from your roof? Below are some reasons as to when and why you should.
After a heavy snowfall
If you experienced a large amount of snowfall, it's best to deal with it now than wait and see if it will melt. If you get mild temperatures and it does start to melt, chances are that the temperature will drop again, causing all that melted snow to turn to ice and become heavier. It's best to clear your roof after 6 inches of snow has accumulated.
Since a low-pitched roof is shallow, snow will cause concerns because it's sensitive to accumulations and drifting. When the snow melts on a lower-pitched roof, it doesn't travel fast down the roof, meaning it could pool up and turn into ice.
Ice dams are occurring.
Those icicles that hang from the eaves of your roof may look pretty, but they are a cause of concern. Ice dams are formed by water thawing and freezing on your roof and can create additional weight your roof may not be able to support. They can also cause water to back up into the shingles and leak into your attic and onto your ceiling, causing water damage.
You can learn more about ice dams by reading our "Issues With Ice Damming" blog.
Interior structural damage
If snow is too heavy on your roof, you may start to notice your home making noises under the weight. As a result, you may detect cracked walls or doors that are rubbing, or they may not shut properly.
How much weight can a roof hold?
Since snow's state of matter can change, the weight will not always be the same.
Fresh snow is lighter, so therefore your roof can withstand more. 10 - 12 inches of fresh snow is the same as 1 inch of water or 5lbs per square foot of roof. Your roof can have a maximum height of 4 feet before it becomes stressed, even though we don't recommend this.
Packed snow is dense, causing more weight to accumulate on the roof. 3 - 5 inches of packed snow is the same as 1" of water or 5lbs per square foot of roof. Snow-packed 30cm or higher is too much for your roof.
Ice is less dense but heavier than snow. A 1-inch layer of ice is the same as 12 inches of fresh snow. Ice is hefty and can be crucial for the safety of your home.
The safest way to remove snow is to use a roof shovel (or roof brake) that allows you to stand on the ground and away from the roof's edge.