Snow stress on roofs

Klamath Falls, Ore. – You’ve already shoveled your sidewalk, and your driveway – but you might need to look up to see your next snow removal project.

Crews are already busy at Oregon Tech removing snow from rooftops.

Nabil Taha of Precision Structural Engineering says as a general rule, most roofs are safe with about 12 inches of snow.  “Beyond the one foot, start thinking about removing the snow.”

A foot of snow weighs about 15 pounds per square foot.

Taha says that doubles to 30 pounds per square foot once the snow freezes.  “If it rain on the snow, that’s when the weight really become maximum – about 60 pounds per foot.”

Entrance overhangs and covered parking shelters are at particular risk.

Taha adds that if you listen closely, your home may already be giving you some warning signs.  “The ceiling might crack, or the doors start to be jammed – that’s all sign that the roof is loaded more than it should.”

A ‘roof rake’ is one way to help reduce the load of snow.

Taha cautions that not taking action now may come at a higher price later.  “Removing the snow, it costs money, yes – but much cheaper than repairing your roof if it is damaged.”

Many older homes were designed to lose enough heat through the roof to aid in snow melt.

If you’ve insulated the attic, that will lower heating costs – but could put your roof at risk.

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