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Flooding – and worse – often occurs in winter when a roof leaks or even collapses because it was just not up to handling the weight of snow that fell upon it. But how can a Waterloo Region homeowner tell when the latest snowfall is a danger to their home rather than just another cold weather nuisance in their life?
Understanding Snow Loads
Determining the snow load your roof is under is the key to deciding whether or not you need to take evasive action and remove it immediately, either by yourself if you have a willing and able helper or by calling in a professional snow removal company, or are safe to allow it melt away by itself. The snowfall totals shown on the local weather forecast are not, in themselves, a reliable indicator though.
How heavy snow is depends upon how wet it is. As you might imagine wet snow is far heavier than the light, dry flakes. In fact, six inches of wet snow is equal to the weight of about 38 inches of dry snow!
How do you know what kind is falling? Head outside and take a look for yourself. The good news for those living in a home built within the last 30 years or so is that building codes require that any roof be constructed to meet the demand of the heaviest average snowfall in the area in which it is located.
Even that is no guarantee though as changing weather patterns have led to some unusually severe snowstorms in recent and if yours is an older home the codes it was built to did not necessarily address the snow weight issue effectively.
How Will I Know There’s a Problem?
There are some telltale signs that will point to the fact that your roof is struggling under the weight of the snow that has fallen on it. The most readily obvious is that the doors in the interior of your home, especially those on upper floors, will begin sticking. This is because the framing of the house is literally being pushed down by the snow. New cracks in the interior walls can be a sign of a problem as well. Finally, if you have had extensive conversion work done in the attic you roof is likely to be at a greater risk for a cave in or leakage as well.
If you suspect that the snow on your roof is causing it undue strain then the obvious course of action called for is to remove as much of it as possible as quickly as possible. As most roofs are not exactly very accessible undertaking snow removal from them, especially very heavy wet stuff is not the easiest, or the safest, prospect in the world.
In most cases calling in a professional snow removal service is a better idea. These are the people who have the expertise, person power and tools to get the job done the right way without damaging the roof or making matters worse.