The snowfall and all the beautiful imagery that goes with it have arrived in Quebec. But these scenes can quickly turn into a concern when you consider the amount of snow that will accumulate on roofs in the coming weeks.

Many residents of the province are unaware of the danger that snow accumulation poses to our roofs, but they might be if they knew that just a few inches of snow piled on top of a house can weigh several hundred kilograms.

Is your roof ready to handle that much snow? The reality is that many are not and a snow removal service is often needed.

How much snow can a roof support? What can you do to protect your roof from snow building up in winter? Duro-toit answers all of these questions in this article.

How much snow can a roof hold?

According to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety, most residential roofs in good condition can handle 20 pounds per square foot of snow.

Another consideration to help you determine when the snow on your roof approaches this weight limit is the type of snow:

  • Fresh snow: 10 to 12 inches of fresh snow equals about 5 pounds per square foot of roof. This means you can have a maximum snow load of 4 feet before the roof becomes strained.
  • Packed snow: 3 to 5 inches of “old snow” equals about 5 pounds per square foot of roof. More than 1 foot of snow may be more than your roof can handle.
  • Ice on the roof: a thin 1-inch layer of ice is equivalent to 12 inches of fresh snow! This is why it is so important to watch for ice dams and take care of them quickly.

We have put together at least one easy to use calculator to help you. Check it out in our article on how to calculate the weight of snow on your roof.

In a matter of seconds, you’ll know whether you need to clear your roof of snow or whether you can sleep soundly.

Snow weight accumulates quickly on flat roofs

Keep in mind that flat roofs are more susceptible to snow because of the total weight that accumulates faster. This is because melt water is more likely to freeze on flat roofs before it can drain off, unlike pitched roofs where drainage is easier.

Snow removal on flat roofs should be done more frequently to avoid serious structural damage.

What to do when snow starts to accumulate

In order to prevent snow from accumulating on the roof, with all the risks that it entails, you should remove it frequently. Snow removal is not a simple task and is often hazardous. Whoever is responsible for clearing snow from the roof should take all necessary safety precautions.

At Duro-Toit, we recommend contacting snow removal professionals if you have any doubts about your ability to safely remove snow from your roof.

Look for signs of roof damage

Sagging ceiling tiles, sprinkler lines, popping or cracking noises, blocked doors and windows, cracked walls or a leaky roof are all signs of an over-stressed roof.

Roof inspections are important

Another step to take if you live in Quebec or anywhere else where snow is common in the winter is to have a professional roof inspection done at the beginning of the winter to confirm that it can handle the weight of the snow when it arrives.

And even if snowfall isn’t as frequent where you live, it’s a good idea to contact an expert at least once a year to check the condition of the roof since even rain or wind can cause problems if it’s in bad shape.

What about ice on the roof?

Since ice is heavier than snow, it makes sense that too much of it on your roof or inside your gutters can cause your roof to weaken and result in costly water damage to your home or business.

How to remove ice from your roof

The Régie du bâtiment du Québec (RBQ) recommends using professional roofers to de-ice roofs because the operation is risky, both for those on the roof and for those circulating in the vicinity.

In addition to the risk of falling, the potential fragility of the roof and the close proximity of electrical equipment must also be considered.

Things that roof ice removal professionals take into account:

  • They know the proper techniques to clear ice from a roof without risking damage to its various components.
  • They have the right equipment to de-ice safely.
  • If necessary, they will set up a safety perimeter around the building.

At Duro-Toit, we prefer to use a hot water de-icer. It is the most reliable and least dangerous way to remove ice from gutters and in between roof components.

Finally, we recommend installing heating cables on the roof to limit the accumulation of ice. Using an electrical system that generates heat, the cables create melting paths through the ice on the roof.

Duro-Toit roofers protect your roof in Montreal!

If you live in the Greater Montreal area, we have the solution. We can handle your roof, whether it is residential, commercial, sloped or flat.  We have more than 15 years of experience, which means we are used to dealing with snow-covered roofs and we know exactly how to protect them from bad weather. If you need our services or if you have any questions, please contact us by phone at (514) 755 – 8648 or by filling out our contact form on our contact page.

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