In Brookings, South Dakota, it's no secret that snow falls in bunches. Some snow is heavier than other, so it's a good idea to check on your roof to see how much snow is up there. Too much weight on your roof is never a good thing. And we all know what happens when too much snow bursts through a roof! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_uscBJn0p0 Okay, okay, your roof isn't the Metrodome in Minneapolis. It's most likely safe and won't cave in. But if you're worried about the snow on your roof, here are a few things to look for or that you can do to mitigate the risk.
First, the weight of the snow, not 'how much', is what matters
The depth of snow on your roof might not tell the whole story. A foot of fluffy white snow is less of a concern than six inches of wet snow. In fact, six inches of wet snow is equal to the weight of about 38 inches of dry snow. Yes, you read that correctly. It's a huge difference!
But how do you know if you have wet snow or dry snow? Simple. Grab your trusty shovel and head outside. A few scoops will tell you if you're hauling the heavy stuff or the light fluffy stuff. If you'd rather ask an expert, check in with your local weather forecast. There should be alerts for snow loads if you're really in danger.
The good news is that building codes ensure your roof will withstand the heaviest snows around. If it's built to the code, it should support more than the requirement.
Second, check your doors
Your interior doors are a great indicator of the load on your roof. If the doors begin to stick, it's a signal that there's enough weight on the center structure of your house to distort the door frame. Make sure you're checking the interior doors, not exterior ones. Check closets and doors leading to the upstairs bedrooms or attics in the center of your home. Also, if the door frames are showing cracks in the drywall around them, you might be in trouble.
Homes that are most likely to have a roof cave in on them are those that cut corners on renovations or had updates that didn't keep up with today's standards. Improper removal of load-bearing walls is often responsible. Note to self: when planning a renovation, have a knowledgeable craftsman check the load-bearing walls before knocking one down!
Third, remove some of the snow load
But if you decide to do this, please, be safe! Getting on the roof yourself might be a bad idea. Instead, call a professional snow removal contractor to safely get the job done. Make sure they are licensed and insured - this will let you know they are experienced and can do the job correctly. It might cost you a bit of money (anywhere from $250-$500), but, if it comes to this, the safety of you and your home is worth it. Also, don't expect the roof to be completely free of snow when they're done. The goal is to remove the excessive weight and lighten the load to a manageable amount. Attempting to remove the bottom layers of ice on your roof could lead to damage, and the point is to prevent damage. You'll have to trust the snow removal experts on this one.
Finally, you can try to get the snow off your roof from the ground
But do this one without burying yourself in the process! If you're in a one-story home, it might be safe for you to give it a try on your own. You should try to work entirely from the ground. After all, thousands of people are injured falling from ladders every year. Add in snow and ice and you're just asking for an accident!
Find a long-handled snow rake, preferably one with a sturdy, telescoping handle and built-in rollers to keep the blade safely above the shingles. Then, pull the snow down by raking from on top of it. Another model will work by releasing the snow from underneath by sliding between the roof and the snow. This allows gravity and the snow's own weight to do the work. Select the right tool for the job and get to work. But first, here are two tips:
1. Anticipate where the snow and ice will fall so it doesn't land on your head. The snow and ice load will be heavy and you don't want to hurt yourself in the process.
2. Remember, the goal isn't to remove ALL the snow and ice. The goal is to remove enough to relieve the excessive load on the roof.
Now you've got a few things to think about to know if your roof is at risk and ideas on removing excess snow if necessary. We've had a relatively light load this winter so far, but with these tips in mind, let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!
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