To shovel snow off your roof or to not to shovel
Should you worry about snow on your roof? I know we just passed Labor day and most of us still believe it is summer. So why am I talking about snow on your roof? Some of the old cowboys in the area are telling me to expect record snowfalls this year, (something about a fuzzy worms being fuzzy earlier than normal).
If you have any concerns at all about your roof being able to withstand heavy snowfalls, now is the time to have it inspected. Most roofers are not qualified to answer the question of structural integrity, that requires an engineer. However most roofers can tell you, based on the age of your home and the building codes that were in place at the time it was built whether or not you should be concerned.
I have a friend who owns a home with a very lope slope roof. On days with heavy snow, he spends much time going up and sweeping or shoveling snow off his roof. This is relatively easy for him because his home is built into a hillside and he can walk on his roof without the use of a ladder. The question is:”Should he be doing this?”
I believe the answer is NO!!! The risk he runs of compromising his roof which is a 12-year-old EPDM membrane (looks like the material from an inner tube tire). EPDM is a single ply system and just the act of walking on it with heavy boots that might have rocks or gravel sticking to the bottom is a bad idea, but then to take a shovel and run the additional risk of puncturing the EPDM with it is a risk I would never be willing to take. This is the original roof on his home in the mountains and the roof structure was designed to take the added weight of almost any snow storm the home will ever see.
Why then does he think this is a good idea? He will cite stories on the news about the collapse of the roof on the Metrodome that moved the Vikings football game to a new night and a new venue. In 2003 there were several roofs which collapsed in Denver, CO due to very wet and heavy snows. Every year around various parts of the country you will hear stories of roofs that have collapsed due to the heavy weight of snow. These are usually older buildings built before the current code enforcement, or new buildings in a vulnerable stage of construction. It is more likely to occur on low slope roofs but any roof not properly designed is vulnerable. I can understand the concern if you are getting an extreme amount of record snowfall. Building codes are based on average snowfall and take into consideration the possibility of heavier amounts, but not for EXTREME record snowfalls.
So that brings us back to the question: To shovel or not to shovel? I cannot answer the question for you. Most newer building are designed to withstand the weight of the worst snow the area should get. If you have an older building in an area that doesn’t typically get heavy wet snow and suddenly you have a foot or two on your roof there is a possibility the weight might cause the roof to collapse, and you might consider shoveling. However, if you do shovel and it collapses while you are on the roof, you risk much more damage to yourself than loss of the building.
My opinion is that the average person should NEVER be on their roof, with or without a shovel. In most cases they will do more damage than leaving it alone. They may also cause themselves personal injury by climbing a ladder with snow packed boots or slipping off the roof. If you truly feel there is concern contact a quality roofing contractor to help advise you before the storms hit. They can also help eliminate the possibility of Ice Damming which is caused, in part by roofs that are not properly ventilated. If you wait until the weight of snow might collapse your roof, I believe you have waited too long. Have your roof inspected before there is a problem, so you don’t endanger yourself or others.
Rory Huskin Cornerstone Roofing, Serving Southern Colorado including Colorado Springs, Pueblo, La Junta, Trinidad, Canon City and many other areas. Call our toll-free number for the location nearest you. 877-564-5470
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