What is Snow Load and What Can a Homeowner Do About It?

Real Estate Broker/Owner with Bend Premier Real Estate 200009031

In light of heavy snow and stories of collapsing roofs, the concerns regarding snow load have really hit home. So what is snow load and what can a homeowner do about it? According to AccuWeather, a cubic foot of dry snow weights about 6 to 8 pounds, while one cubic foot of packed snow could weigh up to 20 pounds. The same volume of ice can weigh three times this amount.  Roofs are engineered to handle a certain amount of weight based on their pitch (inches the roof rises vertically for every 12 inches it extends horizontally). The steeper the pitch, the less likely snow will accumulate on the roof. Homes with low pitch or flat roofs are at increased risk to accumulate snow and collapse under the snow's weight. The average residential roof is engineered to handle 25 pounds per square foot - which is typically about 20 inches of snow. Older homes, built before building codes were incorporated may not meet this minimum standard. When we have rainfall on top of snow, a lot of weight can be added to a roof quickly.

There are several indicators that a roof may be on the verge of collapse: sagging roof, severe roof leak, cracked or split wood members, bends or ripples in supports, cracks in walls or masonry, sheared off screws from steel frames, indoor sprinkler heads that that have dropped down below ceiling tiles, doors that pop open, doors or windows that are difficult to open, bowed utility pies or conduit attached at ceiling, creaking or popping sounds.

Homeowners should consider having excess snow removed from their roofs. There are licensed professionals who do this - a roofing contractor or arborist may be a good choice. Snow rakes can also help, but be careful with this as snow rakes can push a lot of snow and icicles off a roof onto people, pets, and plants below and it is dangerous climbing on a roof at anytime, much less with ice and snow. Those who want to do it themselves should use extreme caution and may want to consider hiring a professional.

Original post can be seen at Bend Premier Real Estate's blog.


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Anna Banana Kruchten CRB, CRS 602-380-4886
Phoenix Property Shoppe - Phoenix, AZ
Arizona's Top Banana!

Lynnea there are a lot of folks that are learning about the snow load of roofs this year. I've heard a lot of stories already and it's important to get the word out so folks take this seriously and find somebody to clean off those roofs.

Jan 13, 2017 11:47 AM #1
Will Hamm
Hamm Homes - Aurora, CO
"Where There's a Will, There's a Way!"

Wow Lynnea Miller, You are not kidding about you getting lots of snow in your area.  Hope your place is ok.


Jan 16, 2017 04:49 PM #2
Gabe Sanders
Real Estate of Florida specializing in Martin County Residential Homes, Condos and Land Sales - Stuart, FL
Stuart Florida Real Estate

Fascinating information Lynnea.  Luckily (or hopefully) this is something I don't have to worry about.

Jan 17, 2017 06:22 AM #3
Nick & Trudy Vandekar, 610-203-4543
Long & Foster Real Estate Inc 610-225-7400 - Devon, PA
Tredyffrin Easttown Realtors, Philly Main Line

No wonder Gabe is smiling in his photo, he does not have to deal with this as he says, but he does get hurricanes occaisonally. Luckily we usually don't get so much snow that it is a concern in our area. This year so far it warms up after each snow drizzle and everything has melted.

Jan 17, 2017 11:37 AM #4
Debbie Laity
Cedaredge Land Company - Cedaredge, CO
Your Real Estate Resource for Delta County, CO

I grew up in the Midwest and I can remember my dad getting on the roof to shovel off the snow. How much snow are you all receiving? We started off January with a lot of snow, but now we are getting mostly rain. 

Jan 17, 2017 05:01 PM #5
Roy Kelley
Realty Group Referrals - Gaithersburg, MD
Roy and Dolores Kelley Photographs

This is timely advice to share. I hope we do not experience those issues in our area.

Jan 18, 2017 05:34 AM #6
Jeff Dowler, CRS
Solutions Real Estate - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude - Carlsbad

Hi Lynnea

These are tough issues to deal with during the winter and it sounds like with the weather you have had there you have seen or hear of some real issues. We had similar problems back in New England when the snow and ice was particularly deep and heavy. Hope the word gets out on these potential problems so homeowners can take the appropriate actions.


Jan 25, 2017 03:16 PM #7
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Lynnea Miller

Premier Real Estate Service in Central Oregon
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