How to Assess Your Roof After a 20-Inch Snowfall

  • January 25th 2016

by Nena Perry-Brown

How to Assess Your Roof After a 20-Inch Snowfall: Figure 1

As the city emerges from its bunkers post-Storm Jonas, homeowners will want to pay extra attention to how their homes held up, and the health of the roof may be at the top of that list.

While you may look at all the snow on your roof and think you need to get up there and shovel it off before things start caving in, it probably isn’t wise or even necessary.

Following are roof snow-mitigation tips from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA):

  • Take note of any signs that your roof is over-stressed by snow. For buildings constructed of metal, steel, or wood, signs of stress can include cracks or splits in the walls, wood beams or masonry of the home; severe leaking or excessive water accumulation “at nondrainage locations”; windows or doors no longer opening or closing; creaking or cracking noises; or sagging ceiling tiles. If you observe any of the aforementioned, evacuate the house and consult a qualified professional who can assess the integrity of the structure.

  • Roofs tend to fail in circumstances like when the roof’s geometric shape is different than the typical steep slope; when snow-, water-, or ice-loads concentrate in various areas due to improper roof draining or natural drifting; or when heavy rainfall follows snow pile-up, as the subsequent melting snow can over-saturate the roof.

Depending on the signs of stress or the severity of the snowfall, homeowners may need to enlist an expert on how or whether to remove snow. There are various methods of snow removal, all of which require using Occupational Safety and Health Administration protocols. Everything from the direction of snow removal and types of tools used can dictate the effectiveness of those measures and should be overseen by a professional. Make sure that any snow removal efforts avoid stockpiling snow on the roof; any use of mechanical or sharp equipment; or even removing all of the snow, as a couple of inches should be left to prevent damage to the roof covering.

For more information on how to preempt roof collapses or have snow removed, click here.

This article originally published at https://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/how_to_look_at_your_roof_after_a_20_inch_snowfall/10794.

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