The cold temperatures and frozen precipitation that winter brings to the Canton area can cause a host of problems for a homeowner. Two major wintertime concerns are snow loads and ice damming since they can wreak havoc on your home’s roof. Here’s what you need to know about these issues so you can better protect your home from the damage this winter.

Snow Load and How It Impacts Residential Roofing

Snow load refers to the amount of frozen precipitation that your roof can tolerate without damage to the structure, and the average snow load is around 20-25 pounds per square foot. Exactly how much of a snow load your roof can withstand is determined by its design, and the mix and weight of the snow that collects on it:

  • Most roofs can tolerate about four feet of fresh, fluffy snow, which weighs about five pounds per square foot.
  • Older, more compacted snow can weigh twice as much, so your roof may only tolerate two feet of accumulation.
  • Ice puts the heaviest load on a roof because just one inch weighs as much as a foot of fresh snow.

Ice Damming and Its Risks

Ice dams form when its warm in your home’s attic and the bottom layer of snow on the roof melts and runs down the slope to the outer edge. Since the roof edge is colder, the water refreezes here forming a layer of ice. When this happens repeatedly, it creates a thick dam of ice that adds more weight on your roof and increases the chances of structural damage or even a collapse.

An ice dam also blocks the escape route of any additional snowmelt. This can force the water to back up under the shingles and damage the roof sheathing, or seep into your exterior walls and attic space. To reduce the likelihood of ice damming:

  • Keep your roof free from significant amounts of accumulated snow by clearing it off with a roof rake or hiring a snow removal company.
  • Have your attic air sealed and properly insulated to R-49 so heat can’t migrate up from your living areas.
  • Keep snow and icicles cleared off of your gutters.
  • Make sure you have an ice and water barrier and good quality shingles on your roof.

For help minimizing the risks associated with heavy snow loads and ice damming, contact us at Victors Roofing, your residential roofing experts in Canton.

Read: 10 Winter Maintenance Tasks for Michigan Homeowners