With all the recent snowfall, our architectural firm at Lake Tahoe has been receiving calls about snow loads on our clients’ roofs. Within that conversation, they ask how to safely remove the load – as there is more snow in the forecast this month.
Last year, we posted one of our most popular blogs about how we design mountain homes that meet the structural requirements for significant snowfall. And within the blog, we offered immediate advice as to how one can know if there is too much snow on the roof, and how to safely remove the snow. With the heavy snow that we received during Christmas and New Year’s, we thought we should share that advice again.
Here are the highlights of the story posed by the question “How do you know if you have too much snow on the roof?”
One cubic foot of fluffy, dry snow weighs about three pounds. The same amount of dense, wet snow can weigh as much as 21 pounds. While most roofs are built to withstand more than that, your roof may be under too much pressure if you see these signs:
- Visible sagging along the roofline
- Cracks in the ceiling or on the walls
- Popping or creaking noises
- Difficult-to-open doors and windows
As it melts excess snow can also lead to ice dams — melting snow refreezes and can damage your home’s interior under the eave line.
How to safely clear your roof
Keep the following in mind:
- Hire a professional. A person who does this work regularly should know the best techniques and likely be insured.
- Never work alone. Always have someone with you in case you slip or have an emergency.
- Clear the area. The ladder up to your roof should be positioned on solid ground. Also, make sure the rungs are clear of ice and snow before you climb.
- Secure yourself. If possible, use a strap or belt to anchor yourself to something strong, like a chimney.
- Avoid shingle damage. Stay away from picks, hammers, or other sharp tools to clear snow and ice.
- Use the right tools. If you have a one-story or flat-roofed house, invest in a snow rake. These long-handled tools with plastic blades can help you gently pull snow from the edge of the roof line.
Inasmuch as this is a good recap of how to get the job done, our team at Borelli Architecture suggests you seek professionals to get the job done. Roofing companies and possibly professional tree removal companies would be a good place to start. Here’s a link to the Better Business Bureau’s recommendations.
In the meantime, if you want more details about how to build a structurally sound home in the mountains, feel free to reach out at any time.
Be safe out there!
James P. Borelli
Lake Tahoe / Truckee