Up on the roof: A massive snow buildup


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The next time it snows and you begin begrudgingly shoveling your driveway and walkway, don’t forget to look up. Because not only is it fun times to catch snowflakes on your tongue, but your roof is probably feeling neglected and could be weighed down by the fluffy stuff.

Snow buildup puts pressure on your roof, which can lead to collapse or interior water damage, according to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety.

And to make matters worse, an online survey by Harris Interactive found that among 2,293 adults ages 18 years and older, only 1% of those who live in areas that receive snow identified snow removal from the roof as a first priority.

“As our survey showed, many times a person’s main concern about snow removal is shoveling the driveway and sidewalk first so they can get back to their normal day-to-day routine,” said Joe Saffron, director, marketing and product development, Ames True Temper, which commissioned the study. “Other areas of the home though, such as the roof, receive far less attention and are left vulnerable to costly repairs from ice damming, gutter damage and excess roof weight.”

So how do you know when the accumulated snow is too much for your roof to handle? A 2006 paper published by the University of Arkansas Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service reported that if you can visually detect sagging of the roof line or horizontal deflection of the walls, your home can be damaged by the buildup. The problem with this strategy is you cannot visually measure the weight of the accumulation, which is key in determining risk:

“The water content of snow may range from 3% for very dry snow to 33% for a wet, heavy snow, to nearly 100% for ice. An inch of water depth weighs 5.2 lbs. per square foot. Thus, a roof designed to carry a snow load of 20 lbs. per horizontal square foot is expected to support nearly 12 inches of wet, heavy snow.”

So what’s the takeaway here? Remember to remove snow buildup from your roof immediately with a snow roof rake. If you physically can’t do the job or there’s just too much to handle, hire a professional.

In the meantime, check out this Allstate commercial, in which the  ”Mayhem” man pretends to be snow and falls through a roof.

Tell us: Has your home ever sustained damage from a snowfall?