When Should I Get My Roof Snow Removed?

Residential Roofing

January 20, 2012

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After looking into the dangers of having a heavy snow load on your roof and doing some research, New Heights Roofing recommends getting your roof snow shoveled every 1-2 feet of snow accumulation. This will ensure that your home sustains no damage from the snow load, so you can have peace of mind that your home (and family) is in no danger this winter.

Here’s a little math to show you how we came to this conclusion:

1.) The roof snow load requirements are 40 lbs. per square foot in Post Falls, Coeur d’Alene and Rathdrum. In Spokane County, the requirements are just 30 lbs. per square foot. Older homes in both places may not meet this minimum, so be cautious if you own an older home.

2.) 1 square foot of rain 1″ deep weighs about 5 lbs. Approximately 10″ of cold, dry snow is equivalent to 1″ of standing water.

So we can say that 10″ of dry, cold snow weighs about 5 lbs. According to this, your roof should be able to hold 80″ (or almost 7 feet) of snow! So why remove it when it’s 1-2 feet thick?

Well, the only catch is that around here, snow doesn’t remain cold and dry for very long. It starts to compress as more snow falls, and when it warms up it compresses even more. If it rains, the snow acts as a huge sponge and soaks up much of the falling rain, getting heavy.

Fully saturated snow can weigh up to 21 lbs per cubic foot. If this happens, your snow load goes from almost 7 feet, all the way down to 2 feet – and that’s hitting (or exceeding) your roof’s load limit.

40 lbs per square foot is the load limit. (And remember, older homes may not meet these requirements.) Letting the weight hit that point or go above it is dangerous and can cause structural damage and personal injury. By removing the snow from your roof every 1-2 feet of accumulation you’ll be sure to keep the snow load on your home light and avoid any problems. Plus, you get the added benefits of paying less than when it’s fully loaded (since smaller amounts are easier to remove).

If you need to remove your roof snow, remember to be careful and only hire a skilled professional! Removing roof snow is a dangerous job, and doing it yourself could be very costly if you get injured.

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