If you live in a climate prone to heavy snowfall, you may be wondering how it affects your roof. Will too much snow accumulation cause your roof to collapse under the weight? In some cases, the answer is yes. While fluffy, fresh snow can weigh as little as three pounds per foot, according to FEMA, wet, heavy snow can weigh up to 21 pounds per square foot. Most roofs can only withstand a maximum of 20 pounds per square foot of snow before structural integrity is diminished. Learn more about the dangers of too much snow on a roof, and why you should schedule a consultation before winter.
Dangers of Snow Accumulation
Winter weather does much more than make conditions cold and slippery. When snow and ice accumulates on your roof, it can cause extensive damage and could even make it cave in. Over time, heavy snow can weaken the structural integrity of a roof. Roofs made of lightweight materials, roofs that have little support, and roofs that are flat are most at risk for collapse. Attics that are not well ventilated can contribute to the problem by causing snow to melt and turn to ice.
When snow turns to ice, you risk the development of ice dams. An ice dam is an ice wall that forms on a roof’s edge. The dam often prevents melted snow from running off the roof, resulting in more ice formation and a buildup of snow. Over time, water from the melted snow can seep into your home and damage the ceilings, walls, insulation, and other interior surfaces. The weight and pressure from the dams can also pull the gutters off your home, resulting in structural damage. In addition, mold growth can occur when insulation and other materials in the home become wet.
Roof slides are another risk that homeowners should be aware of. As snow and ice build and the temperatures of winter fluctuate, any roof with a slope is at risk of sliding snow. Metal roofs most commonly experience roof slides due to their slippery nature. Large sheets of snow falling from the roof is not only dangerous for pedestrians walking below, but also to nearby structures. Vehicles, sheds, and other items can become damaged. Heavy snow can also fall down, blocking vents in the wall or breaking windows below. Snow can also cause damage to power lines, gas lines, and pipes.
Among the most serious of snow-related dangers is roof collapse. Ice and snow piled onto roofs creates vertical loads that put the roof at risk of bowing downwards. When the roof reaches its limits, the sagging can cause the roof to cave in. Various factors can increase this risk, such as old age, poor installation, flat or poorly supported roofs, large spanning roofs, substantial snow accumulation, or poor maintenance of roofing materials. Heavy snow can also contribute to a roof collapse if there are inadequate roof drainage systems or there is an imbalance of snow loads.
Importance of Roof Inspections
If you have yet to schedule a roof inspection, it may be in your best interest to get it done. Your roof protects your home year round from the elements. Over time, certain areas of your roof can weaken, making them more prone to leaks and potential collapse. To find these problem areas before they can cause you financial ruin, it is wise to undergo a thorough roof inspection. Hiring a professional roof inspector in the fall can help prepare your home for the cold winter ahead.
Over the seasons, your roof suffers a lot of wear and tear. On a daily basis, it must deal with the elements, from rain and snow to wind and sun. Cold winter weather often affects roofing materials the most. The moisture, coupled with freezing conditions, can result in significant damage over time. As it is very difficult to have your roof replaced in the winter, you want to have it inspected in the fall. If the inspector finds any problems on your roof during the inspection, have them repaired before the winter season begins.
There is also another important reason to have your roof inspected before the start of winter. During the fall, tree branches, twigs, and other debris can fall on your roof. If you fail to remove this debris, snow can accumulate around it, potentially causing ice walls to form. A roofing contractor can remove this debris and any overhanging branches that could cause problems during the winter. This is also the time to take care of any general roof maintenance, such as roof cleanings, gutter cleanings, and flashing repairs. Your roofing contractor can also make any necessary roof repair, such as replacing loose or missing shingles.
Having your roof inspected during the fall can also save you money. While you will need to pay a small fee to have the roof professionally inspected, you can save significantly on a costly roof repair down the road. When you have your roof regularly inspected by a professional, he or she can usually catch a minor roof problem before it has the chance to turn into a larger, more costly problem. Remember that if your roof does have a problem, the longer it goes unnoticed the more damage it is causing to your property.
Call Beyond Exteriors for Roof Repair
Serving Northern VA since 2010, Beyond Exteriors is your source for quality roof repair and inspections. Beyond Exteriors has the experience, skill, and equipment needed to repair all types of roofs and materials. A simple roof repair can save you from having to undergo an entire roof replacement.
Before winter arrives, schedule an inspection to ensure that your roof is in optimal condition for the cold season ahead. Also keep an eye out for signs of damage, such as cracked, curled, or split shingles, missing shingles, loose shingles, exposed nails, rusted metal, drainage issues, or depressions on the roof. Call Beyond Exteriors today to schedule a consultation.