In some parts of the country, snow—sometimes an awful lot of snow—is just part of winter weather. But how much snow is too much for your home’s roof? The typical roof can handle just over three feet of snow, since 10 inches of snow will add about five pounds of weight per square foot on your roof (and most roofs can handle four times that). But there’s a catch: Wet and deep snow places greater strain on your roof, as does thawed-and-refrozen snow. Roofs that are older or weaker may not be able to handle as much snow as a brand new roof. There’s a higher risk of ice dams or—worse yet—a disastrous roof cave-in.
What can you do to protect your home? First of all, don’t try to salt your roof to either prevent snow accumulation or melt snow that’s already there; it won’t work very well, and what you’ll probably end up with is discolored shingles and damage to your flower beds and lawn. You could use a shovel if you can safely do so, or a roof rake, to remove excess snow and reduce the weight on your roof. People are injured or killed every year falling off their roof in an attempt to clear snow, so be very careful and consider having a professional do this for you.
There are, however, steps you can take to reduce the risk of ice dams: If it’s time for a new roof, don’t delay it; the cost of replacing a roof that is old or weak pales in comparison to the cost of having to remove shingles, snow, and ruined furniture from your living room after a roof cave-in. Making sure your roof is installed by experts makes a world of difference too; even newer roofs, if not properly installed, may not be airtight—and sealing them is the best way to avoid ice dam formation by warm air escaping from your living room or attic. If you’re not sure about how airtight the seal on your roof is, have it inspected: The friendly experts at Ridge Top Exteriors can do that for you at no cost—and their no-obligation estimate if your roof needs repairs is absolutely free. It’s hard to anticipate heavy snowfall; some winters are colder or wetter than others, so a little prevention can save you big headaches down the road.