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Snow On Roof

Fluffy, but not always light!
Snow can put significant weight on your roof

A snowy roof may be picturesque, but that snow buildup can put you at risk for collapse and for water damage from ice dams.

Collapse

A cubic foot of light snow weighs about 20 lbs. However, a densely packed mixture of ice and snow can weigh as much as 60 lbs. Even an average amount of snow accumulated on a dairy barn roof can easily weigh 200 tons or more!

How do you know if your building may collapse? Check whether one or more of the below apply and take preventive action:


Buildings most susceptible to collapse

  • any building older than 50 years
  • a building with a low-pitched roof
  • L- or T-shaped buildings
  • low buildings attached to higher ones
  • buildings without sound concrete foundations

Dangerous weather conditions

  • heavy, wet snow
  • high winds after any snowfall
  • frequent freezing and thawing
  • heavy snowfall followed by rain

Ice dams and water damage

An ice dam happens when ice and snow build up in a ridge at the edge of your roof, creating a place that catches water. If water can't escape over the dam to run off your roof, it can instead find any openings in your roof covering and make its way into the attic, exterior walls, or ceilings.

The easiest way to prevent ice dams is to avoid snow buildup in the first place. (It's much easier to remove snow than it is to chip away at a stubborn mass of ice!) Clear at least four feet up from the edge of your roof after it snows, so there's no foothold where a dam can start.

If you notice that your roof is prone to ice dams, you'll want to contact a weatherization or insulation specialist. Ultimately, heat is probably being lost through your roof, and that should be corrected in order to avoid long-term water damage.

For more on ice dams, see this detailed article on the University of Minnesota Extension site.

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