Snow on Your Roof
There’s nothing quite as tranquil as the first snowfall of the season. Winters in Michigan can be beautiful, but homeowners have an extra concern regarding heavy snowfall on their roofs. While it may look like something out of a holiday movie, snow on a roof can pose a serious safety threat.
Whether you’re reading this in the heart of winter or preparing for the colder months ahead, you’ll find everything you need to know about having snow on your roof, the risks, prevention methods, and more in the remainder of this article.
How Much Snow Is Too Much for a Roof?
According to FEMA, fluffy, new snow on a roof might weigh as little as three pounds per square foot. So how much does a cubic foot of snow weigh? Heavy and wet snow can weigh as much as 21 pounds per square foot. Ice is heavier than water, weighing 57 pounds per square foot.
Given that the typical roof in America is around 2,000 square feet, the load of ice and snow can quickly accumulate to unsafe levels. Most roofs can sustain up to 20 pounds of snow per square foot.
Determine whether clearing snow from your roof is required before beginning on a possibly dangerous task of removing it. Houses built before 1975 may not be physically solid enough to withstand the amount of snow dropped over the cities of Michigan this winter.
How to Get Rid of Snow on a Roof?
When your roof has too much snow on it, you should consider having the snow removed. You may want to consider removing the snow as soon as you can because if you don’t, your roof may cave in, which comes with its own set of frustrations and costs.
Now, it’s best not to just plan to take your snow shovel up to your roof and do the job yourself. If you have an asphalt roof, there’s the added risk of causing major damage to your shingles, which can lead to your roof leaking and causing all sorts of problems.
Hiring a roofing professional from Four Seasons Kanga Roof to do the job for you will not only keep you safe, but it will prevent the costly damage that you could end up inflicting on your roof if you try to go it alone.
Does Snow on My Roof Provide Insulation?
While an excessive amount of snow can be a problem, a small layer of snow can work as insulation, trapping heat inside your home. When snowflakes start to pile up on one another, they form air pockets. These pockets can keep your house warm and prevent heat from escaping through the attic.
Research suggests that a snowfall with a density of 0.07 inches, 7% water volume has roughly the same insulation value as a conventional batt of fiberglass insulation. While snow will definitely help bounce a little of that heat back in towards your home, you shouldn’t rely on it for insulation!
These air pockets also work to muffle the sound. If you’ve ever noticed that your home or the busy street outside of it seems to be a bit quieter in the winter, that’s why!
Why Is It Bad to Have Snow on Your Roof?
A large snow load on the roof of a house poses a lot of risks, especially if the snow on the rooftop is not melting anytime soon. Whether you have a gable roof, hip roof, or a flat roof, these are the dangers you should be aware of as a homeowner:
When your rooftop suffers from winter buildup, including snow buildup, there’s a significant possibility your attic ceiling will develop considerable moisture just below the roof. Moisture buildup is a serious issue that can result in wood decay and mold. Having proper ventilation is the best way to prevent this issue.
All breaches in the insulation on the attic flooring where damp air from below could enter are critical in this instance. Malfunctioning appliances, pipes, dehumidifiers, and other systems can lead to excessive moisture buildup, causing damage to your roof and attic.
Heavy Snow on Rooftop
Roofs are intended to manage varying weight loads, and if your house accumulates too much ice and snow on top of it, the threat of roof collapse is imminent. Wet snow is very heavy, but even large drifts of lighter snow can put a lot of pressure on the structure.
Improper roof drainage or construction can exacerbate the problem, resulting in an overworked roof that starts to squeak, drip, and sag. Because this is a dangerous issue, you should contact Four Seasons Kanga Roof for help as soon as you notice or hear these warning indications.
Ice dams are one of the most common roof issues homeowners see in the winter. As water builds up along your roof’s edge and in the gutters, it freezes when temperatures drop. Ice forms inside, and eventually, an ice dam will form. Ice dams can affect your roof, the gutters, the interior of your home, and the siding.
With a buildup of ice, you could see inconsistencies in roof heating, especially if your attic isn’t insulated. Gutters may fall due to the weight of the ice and potentially injure someone or cause damage to the property. It’s in your best interest to prevent ice dams by raking your roof with a proper ground-based roof rake after each cumulative snowfall.
Warning Signs of a Weak Roof
Looking at your roof from the outside can only show you so much. To get the best idea of the health of your roof, you should look inside! Examine the rafters in the attic for any visible bending or cracks, or hire our team to inspect them for you.
Damaged rafters can be caused by a variety of factors, including termites. Even if snow is to blame, there’s a chance you’re dealing with damage from a past winter. The team at Four Seasons Kanga Roof is happy to help assess the situation for you to give you a professional opinion and solutions if anything does come up.
Another area you’ll want to look for damage is on the upper floor of your house, towards the center of your home. Be on the lookout for cracks in the drywall or plaster. Seeing cracks around door frames or having door frames suddenly start to stick when opening or closing can be a sign of structural issues.
If you happen to notice any of the following issues as you’re assessing your home or roof, it’s a good idea to evacuate your house, as your roof could be on the verge of collapsing:
- Sagging ceiling, especially on the upper level
- Major water leaking
- Cracks in walls, especially along door frames
- Loud cracking sounds
Just like most other scenarios, it’s better to be safe rather than sorry. If your roof were to collapse, not only would that harm the structure of your home, but it could potentially injure or kill individuals inside at the time.
Let the Professionals Do the Work
Whether you need snow safely removed from your roof, gutters relieved of harmful ice dams, or insulation in your attic to make your home more energy-efficient, we’re here for you! Don’t take chances when it comes to the question, “how many inches of snow can a roof hold?”
Your safety is our number one priority! Feel free to give us a call for a consultation or reach out on our website to see how we can help you with any roof issues your home may have. We look forward to hearing from you soon.