Should you Remove Deep Snow from Your Roof?

After a particularly heavy snowfall or a blizzard you might look at all of that snow on your roof and be tempted to climb up and shovel it off.  But, is that really a good idea?

During a particularly snowy winter, insurance companies wait for roof structure related insurance claims from snow damaged roofs to roll in. However, most homeowners don’t realize that some insurance policies don’t always cover damage caused by excessive snow load on roofs.  Why?  Because excessive snow load on your roof is preventable. While it’s unusual for a residential roof to collapse completely under a load of snow, it can become damaged and require expensive repairs with hefty costs.

Flat roofs on commercial buildings are another story and they frequently collapse under the weight of snow and ice. The Alberta Building Code recommends that snow be removed from flat apartment, condo, and commercial building roofs before it reaches a depth of 20 inches or 50 cm.  Naturally this code requirements varies somewhat from region to region however the principle generally applies everywhere.

A thick layer of snow often accumulates on parts of gently sloping roofs that are exposed to wind (not an unusual occurrence around Calgary). If you’re concerned that your roof is carrying too much snow, you can stick your head into the attic to have a better look.  If you can hear popping or cracking sounds, or the roof joists are visibly bent, you’ve got a problem that needs immediate attention.

If you plan on removing the snow yourself, be careful.  Use a roof rake with an extension pole to pull snow off of the roof. If you use a ladder, have a strong, qualified person hold it for you and do not place the ladder on an icy ground surface.   Avoid going onto the roof if you can, it is dangerous out there and only qualified professionals fully understand the do’s and don’ts up there.  But if you do go up, be very careful and consult with an expert first. Snow covered roofs are slippery, especially around the edges where ice dams can form.

Clearing snow from a roof is not only dangerous – it’s very easy to damage your roof accidentally. If you’re at all concerned about heavy snow damaging your commercial or residential roof this winter, contact The Roof Hospital and let them clear your snow safely and professionally.

By Eric Gilbert

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