August 13, 2019

Protecting Your Roof in Winter

Your roof may not contribute to curb appeal as much as your front door and holiday lights, but those shingles help keep you warm and dry during winter. Some homeowners wonder if they should regularly remove snow from roofs during winter storms. 

Engineering Roofs 

Building codes, based in part from guidance from the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE), specify the stresses that buildings must withstand. Roof snow load measurement begins with the ground snow load. Ground load is the maximum expected weight of snow on the ground.  This data derives from National Weather Service numbers for each region of the country. 

Other factors going into the engineering specifications include roof slope and the building's ordinary use. Snow slides more easily off of a pitched roof. However, sloped roofs may lead to ice dams that damage gutters. In addition, sloped roofs do not work well for large buildings. A residential building will require higher roof snow load capacity than an agricultural building.

For information on your roof's design and its ability to hold up to snow, discuss with your roofing contractor or building inspector.

Snow Removal Safety

Snow varies in water composition and weight. Wet snow weighs more than dry snow. In addition, snow tends to compact over time. Therefore, even though the snow's height on your roof may appear to diminish, the weight may remain the same. 

Experts do not recommend regular snow removal from roofs during most snowstorms. If you have a newer building built to code, the roof should withstand the weight of the snow. People can become injured when they climb on to roofs to shovel snow.

Consider calling a professional for the safest snow removal. You may use a rake on a roof that is not high. Be careful climbing ladders. Snow can come off in sheets from the roof and push your ladder back, causing you to tumble. Be wary of snow falling on to people passing by on the ground below.

For the rare times that you need to remove snow from your roof, follow safety precautions.

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