Severe winter weather can dump huge amounts of snow on rooftops, and in some cases the weight can be a serious hazard. Usually, rooftops in cold climates are built to withstand the weight, but every year a few roofs collapse under the strain of many inches of heavy, wet snow. Older homes and those that have undergone unpermitted renovations are particularly susceptible.
Determining If There’s a Problem
If you aren’t sure whether or not the snow on your roof is excessive, remember that it’s not the depth of the snow that matters, but the weight. Dry, fluffy snow weighs next to nothing, and just about any rooftop can handle all the dry snow nature can throw at it. But wet snow is significantly heavier, with 6 inches of wet snow weighing about the same as 38 inches of the dry stuff. You can test the weight snow simply by going outside and moving a few shovelfuls.
There will also be signs inside your house if the load on your roof is too much to handle. One thing you might notice is that doors start to stick, particularly upstairs doorways on an interior wall. Cracks may also become visible in the drywall or plaster around these doorframes.
What Can Be Done?
If you think your roof may be in danger of collapsing, you have a few options. The safest and surest path is to contact a licensed and insured professional snow removal contractor to clean off your roof for you. Most jobs typically cost somewhere between $250 and $500.
The do-it-yourself route is another option, but one you should approach with caution. Many roofs are difficult to access. Climbing a ladder is always potentially dangerous, but much more so when you throw snow and ice into the equation. Lower roofs may be easier to clean off, and tools like a long-handled snow rake are tremendously helpful. Rakes with telescoping handles allow you to remove snow from many rooftops without ever leaving the ground. Most models cost $75 or less.
When you use a snow rake, be careful not to damage your shingles, and take care to avoid pulling loads of heavy snow down on top of yourself. Remember also that you don’t have to get every spot of snow off your roof, just enough to relieve the weight.