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Accumulating snow and ice may be pushing your roof to its breaking point. Avoid a roof collapse by taking these preventative measures.

roof collapse, roof rakes, removing snowA roof piled high with heavy snow and ice runs the risk of caving in. Photo: Bochalla, Flickr

Heavy snow and ice accumulation, coupled by a wave of roof collapses, have left residents of the Northeast rushing to remove enough snow before their rooftops give way. The demand is so great that snow removal tools like roof rakes have become winter's version of Tickle Me Elmo -- a hot commodity flying off of stores shelves.

With the threat of more snow on the horizon, state emergency officials across the region are urging people to clear their roofs and decks to minimize the likelihood of structural collapse. To prevent major damage, as well as save big bucks and stress, here's a breakdown of winter roof protection.

Dangers of Snow-Covered Roofs
Picturesque snow-capped houses are charming, but don't be fooled by their delicate beauty. Snow has a great deal of weight, and that weight increases immensely when rain, ice and sleet are added to the mix. Two feet of snow on the average-sized roof can be the equivalent of 38,000 pounds, or 19 tons, NBC News reports. All of this weight puts stress on your roof and weakens its structure.

Complicating matters more, the melting of this mass can cause water seepage, which can rot roofs, destroy insulation, flood attics, ruin gutters and damage the interior of your home.

Before attempting to remove snow from roofs, take note that clearing roofs can be a dangerous task. Think twice before jumping on the roof with a shovel in hand. Most officials don't support the idea of people climbing onto their roofs to remove the buildup, as the weight of a person may be just enough to trigger the roof to collapse. Also, taking the wrong step on an icy roof can easily send you sliding down a slippery slope.

So above all, be careful! If you're afraid to DIY it, don't.


Warning Signs That a Roof Is About to Collapse

The obvious sign that a roof is about to give way is sagging. Also, if you hear creaking, cracking, popping sounds, you should get out of the building as quickly as possible, as these are strong indicators of an imminent collapse.


Severe roof leaks, bowed pipes attached at the ceilings, cracks in the walls or masonry, doors that pop open, as well as doors or windows that are difficult to open are also signs people should look for, according to the Providence Emergency Management Agency.


In addition to your roofs, take heed of decks. Often times they are DIY hacks and may not be up to coding standards. This makes them highly susceptible to collapse under the weight of the snow and ice.





How Do You Remove Snow from the Roof?

roof collapseA roof rake has a long pole that enables you to scrape away layers of snow from the roof. Photo: AP

Once snow buildup occurs or ice dams forms, using a roof rake is the best option that doesn't require spending cash on a professional. The rake has an extended handle, which enables you to pull snow off the roof -- from the safety of the ground.

To remove snow and ice, start from the edge and work your way into the roof using downward strokes. Try to to scrape the snow along the bottom of the roof, shaving two or three inches off. There's no need to scrape the roof entirely clean, as this will risk damage to your roof shingles or other roof covering.




If you don't have a roof rake (or your local hardware store is sold out), follow these tips to create a DIY roof rake.

Metal snow rakes conduct electricity if they come into contact with a power line, so be careful. Also, avoid using a ladder when removing the snow; the ladder's rungs can freeze and cause you to slip. Instead of the ladder, buy extension poles or a longer rake to reach higher portions of the roof. While the average roof rake can be purchased for about $40, the Avalanche Snow Rake is pricier (around $120) and allows for easy removal of snow from high roofs.

How to Prevent Ice Dams

- Get snow off the roof before it can cause ice damage.
Ice dams typically form when snow on the roof starts to melt due to heat escaping from inside the home. The melted water runs down the roof, refreezes and clogs up gutters. As more snow melts, because the gutters are blocked, the water is forced to travel under the shingles and leak into the house.

- Add insulation to attic floors.
A well-insulated attic and well-ventilated roof will prevent heat from escaping, which in turn will protect the roof from conditions that cause ice dams.

- Clean your gutters bi-annually.
Blocked gutters and downspouts can cause ice damns -- as well as rot and other water-based damage to your home. Before the first snow falls, clean your gutters to remove leaves, twigs and other debris that have collected through the fall. Perform this task again in the spring, to clean out the debris from winter.

- Keep gutters and drains free of ice and snow.
During winter months, make sure your downspouts are clean at ground level.

- Use pantyhose for a fast fix.
This Old House suggests filling the leg of a pair of pantyhose with chloride ice melter. Put the hose onto the roof so it overhangs the gutter. The calcium chloride will melt through the snow and ice and free up a channel for water to flow down into the gutters and off the roof.

SEE ALSO:
What to Do After a Blizzard
Ice Melters: Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Rock Salt
Snow Report: Fixes Winter Problems
Top Tips for Dealing With Snow [CasaSugar]
Fast Fixes for Ice Dams [This Old House]



  • jcarter4177

    There are so many things you need to know Http://www.roofingsecrets.info to keep your home safe by caring properly of your roof.

    Reply
  • Scoob

    Ruh row Raggy! Rake the roof!

    Reply
  • steve

    I'm really getting tired of pundits blaming attic house heat loss for the melting and freezing of snow and resulting ice dams. All the gutter ice dams I've seen are caused by the sun melting snow on the roof and refreezing it in / around the gutters which are not as absorbent of sun energy as are the dark shingles. Better roof design and materials would prevent this ice from damaging a roof.

    Reply
  • Bev

    I have relatives that live in Massachusetts where this winter has been very harsh. Some are older and can not get on the roof to take care of the snow and yet, after paying people twice a week to shovel out there driveway, they can not pay for to hire someone to clean off their roof. My heart goes out to all those this winter has affected so negatively. I pray everyone will be safe and this winter will soon end.

    Reply
  • RebeKen

    Just get to know "mayhem" before it gets to know you!

    Reply
  • Terry

    Same old alarmist media. What is this an "Orange" or a "Red"? The fact is if you own a modern house, or even an old one constructed properly, your house can literally be buried in snow and you will be just fine. Of course, a large barn or arena that is not built to code can be a problem.

    Reply
  • FREDDIE

    I HAVE SEEN ELECTRICAL CONTRACTORS, AND TREE REMOVING EXPERTS WITH THE BUCKETS THAT ALLOWS THEM TO REACH AREAS THAT ARE WAY ABOVE MANY POLE LINES, WHY CAN'T THE GOVERNMENT USE THIS METHOD TO HELP PEOPLE WHO CANNOT GET THE SNOW OFF THEIR ROOF?. I THINK IT WOULD BE A VERY GOOD IDEA TO USE THE BUCKET TO REACH THOSE ROOF AREAS, AND SOLVE PROBLEMS, AND MAKE IT A MUCH SAFER METHOD OF GETTING RID OF THE SNOW TO AVOID COLLAPSE.

    Reply
  • Joe

    It's a little late now but being a Roofing,Siding,and Window Contractor in NE Ohio for over 30 years I'll tell you what I always told my customers..You can spend a little more now and have peace of mind especially when the Snow and Ice hit..I always recommended Ice or Weather-Guard at least around the edges of the House..I've seen very few collapse but quite a few leak causing some major damage..Besides the wood rotting or plaster falling off the walls you have to remember the Mold that can start..You also need to be aware that your gutters may fall down and or the Fascia rots..There is also the possibility of Fire when the roof leaks due to all the wiring and fixtures you may have in youe ceiling..If you're asking what it is then your Roofer didn't tell you about it as like I said it will cost more but you'll have the peace of mind..This is a self sticking/sealing heavy type Rubber that will keep the water from forcing its way under the shingles and some insurances will give you a lower rate for using it..Hope this helps someone and any questions you may have I'll be glad to answer for you..Best of luck and regards..

    Reply
  • Gary Mayer

    Great advice! I live in northeast Wisconsin where we got much less snow than Chicago or the northeast and midwest (Wisconsin is not midwest - it is north central or great lakes).

    My roof has melted except for ice build-up on the gutters and about ten very decorative tiles have fallen in the master bedroom. I have a roofer coming out Monday but I wouldn't think the repairs can be made until after the last snow and the wood under the shingles dries. Right now, I have minor roof leakage, just in that bedroom and that's where the ice is built up.

    You're dead on. Pay a little now or a lot later.


  • william

    After ice we had last year this year i put ADKS heat tape on the edge of the roof ,in the gutters and downspouts.Done a bangup job so far and only took maybe an hour to install front and back.

    Reply
  • Bappa ditya Ghosh

    The visit was useful. Content was really very informative. From www.indiafloristnetwork.com

    Reply
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