In this guide, we’ve discussed the concept of roof snow loading, why a roof’s snow load and structure are vital, and why the volume of snow a region gets is crucial.
We’ve also covered details like monitoring the status of roofs and decks, finding your home’s snow load, knowing how much snow your deck can handle, and why knocking down icicles on the roof is a bad idea.
Roof Snow Loading
As winter sets in, it poses several challenges, including pest infestations, icy surfaces, roof snow loading, frozen pipes, etc.
Roof snow loading is particularly interesting to us due to growing inquiries on how best to manage this problem. Luckily, there are helpful tips you can follow in addressing this challenge, as outlined below.
What’s Roof Snow Loading?
As snow depth increases, so does its density.
Roof snow loading is a condition where snow density on a roof is being examined. This is crucial because damage can easily result due to excessive snow loading.
This is important in knowing how much snow load your roof can withstand. In a nutshell, there’s a permissible load under which a roof is expected to hold and vice versa.
There are also formulas and calculations for roof snow loads, differences in snow loads across regions, etc.
If you live in one of the snowiest regions of the United States or Canada, you might want to pay close attention to information on snow loads and the best ways of managing such.
Is Having Snow on the Roof Something to be Concerned About?
Not really. Ordinarily, snowfalls present no danger, especially when falling moderately.
However, in cases where too much snow results, it becomes concerning as it exceeds a few inches on your roof, which adds significant weight that may cause the roof or deck to give way.
However, the type of snow determines whether you should be worried.
Some snow types are denser than others. You should be concerned about your roof’s ability to withstand thicker snow.
Snow types and their density in kg/m³ include ice at 917, fresh snow at 60, settled snow at 250, very wet snow at 750, wind-packed snow at 375, and damp fresh snow at 110.
How Much Snow is Considered Permissible?
It’s necessary to know how much snow is enough on your roof. In other words, knowing your roof’s snow load is critical to its overall functioning.
Some regions across the United States and Canada wouldn’t have a problem with snow loads, while the snowiest regions will. Generally, 40 to 45 inches of fresh snow shouldn’t be problematic.
However, 20 inches of denser or packed snow on the roof is permissible. Anything more than this needs to be cleared immediately. In the case of ice, an inch of it is equivalent to a foot of snow.
Do the calculations and act accordingly.
Snow Cover Has Its Benefits
Many assume that snow loads harm a roof due to the added extra density. However, the reality is quite different if it’s within an acceptable range.
Rather than removing all the snow on your roof, you’re better off leaving a thin layer to prevent damage that may arise from shoveling too close to the roofing tiles.
Another reason why it’s beneficial to leave behind a thin layer of snow during removal is to help with insulation from above.
This helps promote better insulation as heat is retained, thus saving on heating bills. Also, not everyone has the patience of shoveling off accumulated snow on their roof every morning.
Melting Snow on Roof
Homeowners usually adopt various melting techniques on roofs to manage roof snow loads. Whether this is advisable or not remains to be seen.
Snow can be melted by pouring hot water on your roof or installing heat cables along your roof edges. Having snow guards installed can also help melt excessive snow on the roof.
Chemical deicer will also serve a similar purpose. Consider lowering the temperature in your attic, using a rake, or calling the pros to handle the job.
Overloaded Roofs Can Become a Hazard.
With continuous snow accumulation, roofs can become overloaded, which poses a safety hazard. Speaking of overloaded roofs, there are common signs to be attentive to.
They include signs of warping or water stains on the ceiling, cracking, popping, or creaking sounds, sticking doors, and ice dams appearing around the edges.
When any or all of these signs are seen, it’s necessary to take immediate action.
Knowledge about the Volume of Snow a Region Gets is Important
Have you checked the volume of snow your region receives each year? This can be the first step towards assessing roof snow loading and planning.
Find out details like the volume of snowfall in a single storm, the type of precipitation, wind gusts, frequency of blizzards, and temperature changes.
These details give you an idea of likely roof snow loads, thus helping with planning.
Monitoring Roofs & Decks
To better manage roof snow loads, monitoring your roofs for any obstructions is necessary.
A steep, pitched metal roof with snow guards will perform best in snowy regions. However, obstructions may affect such performance, as accumulated ice won’t slide easily.
These obstructions include solar panels, HVAC equipment, Dorner windows, chimneys, parapets, and skylights. You’ll need to monitor your roof and decks for such obstructions and, where necessary, make adjustments.
Knowing How Much Snow Your Deck Can Handle
If you have a deck and wonder how much snow it can carry, you must understand that only decks that comply with building codes are being considered.
For these, about 40 to 60 lbs of snow per square foot, amounting to about 3.5 feet of accumulated snow, is the carrying capacity for such a deck.
Speak with the Pros
Having a better idea or understanding of roof snow loads requires appropriate action, including consulting the pros.
These include roofing contractors, structural engineers, architects, the weather service, and building code officials. The insights offered by these pros help better manage roof snow loads.
The information provided here allows roof snow loading to be better assessed and managed. It would help if you didn’t take our word for it.
As earlier advised, consider speaking with professionals to understand the subject matter better.