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How to protect your home from too much snow

JANUARY 02, 2020

Snow, snow and more snow. It’s everywhere.

Thanks to a post-Christmas blizzard, much of North Dakota is buried underneath a blanket of heavy, wet snow. Snow that can cause lots of damage to homes and structures because of its weight and moisture content.  But how much is too much snow for a typical home to handle?

According to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, most residential roofs in good condition can support 20 pounds per square foot of snow. To help you determine when the snow on your roof may be approaching this weight limit, use these guidelines:

·         Freshly Fallen Snow: Around four feet of fresh snow equals 20 pounds per square foot.

·         Old, Packed Snow: Around two feet of old, packed down snow equals 20 pounds per square foot.

·         Mixed New and Old Snow: Around two to three feet of both new and old now equals 20 pounds per square foot.

While analyzing your roof, keep in mind that flat roofs are more susceptible to roof collapse from the total combined snow weight. This is because meltwater has a higher chance of refreezing on flat roofs before it has a chance to run off, like it would on sloped roofs. If your home has a flat roof, remove the snow more often to prevent serious structural damage from occurring.

Lots of snow on your roof already?  Here’s what to do.

“Clear gutters and downspouts so when snow starts to melt it is able to run off,” says Rich Laber, Director of Property/Field Claims for Nodak Insurance.  “Also make sure downspout extensions are extended out away from the house as this will minimize water soaking into the ground near the foundation and minimize chances for water damage during the thaw.”

When the snow on your roof accumulates faster than it can melt away, it needs to be cleared off by hand. If you want to clear the snow yourself, use the following proper safety precautions to protect yourself and your roof:

·         Never remove snow alone.

·         If possible, remove the snow using a telescopic roof rake while standing on the ground to prevent bodily injury.

·         Remove snow and icicles from the edges of the roof first. Sometimes, this is all it takes for the rest of the accumulated snow to fall off.

·         If you need to use a ladder, make sure that it is in good condition and free of ice. Plant it firmly into a pile of snow before climbing up.

·         Always use a safety harness when on your roof. Ensure that the harness is attached to a sturdy anchor point to protect you from serious falls.

·         Use plastic shovels when clearing snow off your roof, since metal tools can damage your roofing material and cause structural issues.

Doing your best to stay on top of roof snow removal can go a long way to preventing roof collapse and roof leaks.  We live in North Dakota, where more snow is inevitable.

Laber concludes, “There’s a lot of snow early this winter so homeowners will need to monitor the snow loads closely and take corrective actions to remove excess snow if it continues through the remainder of the winter.”

Source: Service Masters




Nodak Insurance Company

1101 1st Ave N
Fargo, ND 58102