Is Snow on My Roof a Good or Bad Sign?

house in winter with snow on roof

It’s almost that time of year when the snow starts to fall and everything is blanketed in a layer of white. Contrary to what you may think, a layer of snow on your roof can be a good thing. Learn how to tell the difference between a good amount of snow and too much, and how to protect your home this winter.

Keep an eye on your roof.

Most homeowners get concerned when they start to see snow pile up on their roof, but in most cases, this is a great sign. A light, consistent layer of snow actually acts as insulation, keeping heat inside your home where it belongs.

A layer of snow means your insulation and ventilation are keeping the heat inside your home rather than allowing it to escape.

If you see patches of snow on your roof, it’s a sign that heat isn’t transferring evenly as it leaves your attic. Uneven heating can melt snow near the peak of the roof, but as the runoff approaches the edges, where it’s much colder, it typically refreezes, creating an ice dam.

These blocks of ice can lead to many, many problems, such as:

  • water-damaged housing materials
  • the formation of mold
  • warped roofing beams
  • damaged insulation
A solid layer of snow means your roof is properly insulated, and therefore not likely to produce ice dams.
 

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Don’t let snow build up too high.

man clearing snow using roof rake

While a light layer of snow provides some added insulation, heavy snow on a roof can lead to real problems.

Roofs are designed to withstand the added weight of snow, but if old layers haven’t melted away, and more snow piles up on top of older, wetter layers, it can become quite heavy.

Most roofs max out at around 20 pounds per square foot, which is about two feet of compounded snow or up to four feet of fluffy snow.

Monitor your snow levels and remove excess snow before it has an opportunity to damage your home. Worst-case scenario: The added weight causes your roof to collapse. But usually, excessive snow causes slightly less noticeable issues, like cracks, leaks, and structural damage.

Removing snow and ice isn’t easy though. Even if you manage to get on your roof with a shovel or rake, you risk seriously injuring yourself and also damaging your shingles, which could lead to roof leaks and other costly consequences.

If your area has been hit with large amounts of snow quickly and roofers can’t come to your home immediately, you can remove some of the snow with a roof rake.

Roof rakes allow you to reach the roof from the ground and have aluminum blades with a set of rolling wheels on each end to prevent shingle damage to the roof. The safest option is to hire a roofing contractor who can handle snow and ice removals. On average, snow and ice removal services range from $100 to $500.

Hometown Roofing Contractors makes it easy to find a qualified roofing professional. Browse a wide selection of roofers, request multiple quote options, and check out what other customers have to say about their experience.
 

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Prepare your roof for winter.

Many homeowners will notice that their homes actually feel a bit warmer after a solid snowfall (unless your home has poor insulation). 

Anecdotal evidence suggests that a layer of snow consisting of 7% water by volume acts about the same as insulation with an R-value of 18. However, houses in cold climates should have a minimum of R-49 insulation in the attic, so always be sure your home’s insulation and ventilation are ready to act as the first line of defense.

Fully prepare your attic for frigid winter temperatures:

  • Add more fiberglass insulation between the joists in your attic floor.
  • Install a radiant barrier below your roof.
  • Add foam insulation above your roof’s sheathing.

In addition, you may want to inspect your home’s air sealing around chimneys, pipes, windows, and doors. All of these techniques will help keep warm air inside your home and keep you and your family comfortable this winter season!

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