Follow these recommendations to prevent roof damage.
Evaluate your risk
Melting snow tends to more quickly run off steep sloped roofs with slopes greater than 3 inches of slope in 12 inches of horizontal distance, particularly the steeper ones that are typically found on houses in northern climates.
- Ice and snow tend to more readily accumulate on low slope and flat roofs over porches or parts of a home that are next to a taller section of the house, especially during high winds.
Estimate how much weight your roof can support
Unless the roof structure is damaged or decayed, most residential roofs regardless of the location of the house should be able to support 20 pounds per square foot of snow before they become stressed.
- In some areas of New England and in mountainous areas throughout the U.S., snow loads used in home design may be considerably higher, and the roofs may be able to resist a greater depth of snow.
- If you live in an area known for lots of snow, you can probably check with your building department to find out if higher loads were used at the time your home was built.
Estimate how much the snow on your roof weighs
Fresh snow: 10-12 inches of new snow is equal to 1 inch of water, or about 5 pounds per square foot of roof space, so you could have up to 4 feet of new snow before the roof will become stressed.
Packed snow: 3-5 inches of old snow is equal to 1 inch of water, or about 5 pounds per square foot of roof space, so anything more than 2 feet of old snow could be too much for your roof to handle.
- Total accumulated weight: 2 feet of old snow and 2 feet of new snow could weigh as much as 60 pounds per square foot of roof space, which is beyond the typical snow load capacity of most roofs.
Ice: one inch of ice equals one foot of fresh snow.
Remove snow from your roof
If the loads you estimate based on the thickness of the various types of snow and ice exceed 20-25 per square foot, you should consider removing snow from your roof.
- For safe removal that won’t endanger you or damage your roof, hire a snow removal contractor.