Snow-capped houses may look charming, but they can also be dangerous. If your roof isn’t ready, the pressure from heavy snow can cause ice dams, leaks and even a cave-in. These problems can cost thousands of dollars to repair, so it’s important to know when it’s time to clear the snow away. If you suspect a collapse, evacuate your building immediately and call 911.
Inspect your roof. Most roofs are built to support the weight of two feet of snow. If your roof accumulates more than that this winter, head outside and inspect your roof from the ground. Keep a lookout for any spots that have snow build-up or high snowdrifts. Also, look for any sagging areas, which is the most obvious indicator that there is too much weight on your roof.
Check your doors and windows for warning signs. First, inspect your interior doorframes. If your door sticks in the frame or pops open, the weight on your roof is heavy enough to distort the frame. That’s not a good sign! The same goes for your windows. If they’re difficult to open, your home may be at risk for a structural collapse.
Look for leaks and cracks. A severe roof leak or water dripping from your ceiling are clear warning signs that your roof is at risk for collapse. Also, check for any new cracks in your walls or bowed pipes in the basement.
Use your ears. If you hear any creaking, cracking or popping sounds, get out of your home as soon as possible!
Call a professional. If you think the amount of snow on your roof is a hazard, the best thing to do is get everyone out of the house and hire a qualified professional to remove the snow. Unless you can reach your roof from the ground, clearing snow from your roof can be very dangerous. Note: Using a ladder is particularly dangerous in cold weather because the rungs can quickly turn icy, causing you to slip or fall.