If you live in a place that gets a lot of snow in the winter, it’s possible that you’ve worried in the past about the weight of the snow that settles on your roof. In some very cold, snowy cities, snow may fall at the beginning of the winter, settle on the roof, and not completely melt until springtime.
So, how much weight can your roof safely hold before you have to worry about cracking, splitting, or a complete collapse? It’s important to note that residential building codes set the amount of weight that your roof should be able to hold depending on where you live and how much snow that area usually gets. So, if your home is built to code, your roof should be able to easily withstand a normal winter’s worth of snowfall.
But what if your area is experiencing much higher than normal snowfall? Unfortunately, there’s no hard and fast rule on how much snow a roof can withstand, and that’s because roofs are constructed so differently that it’s impossible to set a universal standard. Things like the amount of space between rafters, the slope of the roof, and the materials that make up the roof all play into how much weight the roof can hold. Roofs with low slope or no slope at all, for example, suffer more under snow because it’s less likely to slide off. Snow may sit on a flat roof for the entire winter if temperatures don’t rise above freezing for long periods of time.
If you’ve had a recent heavy snowfall and you’re worried about how your roof is doing under the weight, there are a few things that you can look for to determine whether or not it’s been damaged. First, if you can see that your rafters are bent, that’s a sign that your roof is likely suffering from the weight of the snow. Additionally, any cracking or popping sounds coming from the roof are a bad sign. And, if any of the interior doors of your home are suddenly sticking and hard to open or close completely, that could mean that the frame of your home has shifted because of the extreme weight on your roof. In all of these cases, you should contact a structural engineer to make sure that your home is still safe to live in and structurally sound.
And finally, if you suspect that too much snow has accumulated and you’re worried about the weight, don’t attempt to clear the roof yourself. Ladder accidents are some of the most common home improvement accidents, and if you add snow and ice to that mix, it makes it even more dangerous. So instead of climbing onto your roof and clearing the snow yourself, hire a contractor who will have the proper safety equipment and expertise to avoid injury.