Maximum Snow Load On a Roof [Your Ultimate Guide]

Snow on roof

With winter on the way, it’s important to get your home ready for cold temperatures and harsh weather. While you’re raking the leaves and shutting down your sprinklers, you may be wondering—how much snow load can a roof handle? And how can you keep snow off of your roof? 

How Much Snow Can My Roof Handle?

How much weight can a roof handle? Average roof can support about 20 pounds of snow per square inch. The maximum snow load of your roof depends on several factors so some areas of the U.S. that are prone to lots of snow may have roofs that support a heavier snow load. If the roof holds more weight than this, it can cause damage.

How Much Snow Does Your Region Get?

Obviously, you only need to worry about snow load if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow. While this probably won’t be a concern in Los Angeles or Phoenix, it should be a concern if you live in the Midwest, East Coast, or Mountain West regions. 

Syracuse, New York, is America’s snowiest city, clocking in with an average of 123.8 inches of snow per year. Vermont, Main, and New Hampshire are also among the snowiest regions in the U.S., with around 71-89 inches of snow each year. States like Oregon, Washington, and Kentucky, on the other hand, can expect around 15 inches of snow or less per year.

Does Insurance Cover a Damaged Roof?

Fortunately, most homeowners insurance policies cover damage from weather-related events, including damage from snow. That being said, most policies do not cover typical wear and tear that comes with an aging roof.

Is It Good to Have Snow on Your Roof?

While it’s not too worrisome to have a few inches of fresh snow on your roof, too much snow can cause problems over time. Wet or densely packed snow can be even more dangerous, since it is much heavier than freshly fallen snow. If left on the roof, snow can turn into ice, creating ice dams, a sagging roof, leaks, or even causing the roof to collapse.

Should You Knock Down Icicles Off Your Roof?

You may think that knocking down icicles is a smart move for maintaining your roof—but in reality, removing icicles can break or damage gutters, downspouts, or other elements of the roof. If you have large icicles on your roof, it’s better to call in a professional to help with removal.

How Do You Keep Snow Off Your Roof?

Though it may seem counterintuitive, one of the best ways to keep snow off of your roof is by keeping your roof cold. This stops snow and ice from sticking, melting, and refreezing on your rooftop.

You can lower the temperature of your roof by improving ventilation and insulation in the attic, either by filling in cracks, stopping air leaks, or adding roof vents. You can also keep snow off the roof by simply raking it with a snow rake.

How Do You Calculate Snow Load on a Roof?

So how do you calculate snow load on a roof? To find out, we’re going to need to know the density of the snow, which can vary greatly. There are ways to calculate the actual density of the snow, but we’re going to use a handy shortcut to estimate the pounds by cubic foot

Fresh snow: 3.75

Damp fresh snow: 6.87

Settled snow: 15.61

Wind-packed snow: 23.41

Very wet snow: 46.82

Ice: 57.25

With the estimated density, it’s pretty simple to calculate the snow load on a flat roof with this formula: 

Density (lb by cubic ft) x Depth of snow (ft)

More calculations go into figuring out the snow load on a pitched roof, but flat roofs are at the greatest risk from snow load damage. If you need to find out the load bearing down on your pitched roof, we recommend looking up a snow load calculator.

What Pitch Roof Is Best for Snow?

A steeper incline will allow the snow to fall more easily off of the roof. Therefore, experts recommend having a roof pitch of no less than 1:12 if you live in an area that is prone to heavy snow. 

How to Melt Snow on a Roof

Wondering how to melt snow on a roof? Here are some foolproof methods:

  • Install heat cables on the edge of the roof
  • Fill a long roof snow sock with ice and leave at the edge of the roof
  • Apply chemical deicer to the roof
  • Pour hot water on the roof
  • Cool your attic down
  • Use a rake
  • Install snow guards
  • Call a professional roofer

How Much Snow on a Roof Is Too Much?

There are many guidelines to help you determine how much snow on a roof is too much. Here are some tips to keep in mind this winter:

  • 10-12 inches of fresh snow melts down to about one inch of water. 
  • Most roofs can support about 40-45 inches of fresh snow.
  • Packed snow is more dense than fresh, fluffy snow. Therefore, a roof can support about 20 inches of packed snow.
  • One inch of ice is the equivalent of one foot of snow.

How to Remove Snow From Solar Panels on a Roof

If you’ve never been through a winter with solar panels, you may be wondering how to remove snow from solar panels on a roof. Fortunately, all you need is a soft brush to gently remove snow. It can be dangerous to try to scrape ice off the panels, so leave that job to the professionals.

Ice Dam Prevention Tips

Ice dams are formed when ice builds up over time, causing a block that prevents snow from falling off of the roof. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent ice dams from forming in the first place. Here are some tips for prevention and removal:

  • Rake your roof regularly
  • Install heat cables
  • Use a chip and hammer
  • Pour warm water over the dam
  • Get better attic insulation and ventilation
  • Use an ice dam sock

Revitalize Your Shingles with Roof Maxx

You’ve learned how to melt snow on a roof and prevent snow from collecting on your roof in the first place—but it’s still important to note that all roofs wear out eventually. Fortunately, Roof Maxx’s all-natural treatment can prolong the life of your asphalt shingles and save you money by revitalizing shingles worn out from harsh winter weather, strong UV rays, and more. 

Our roof rejuvenation treatment also improves the flexibility of your shingles, which allows them to shed water more effectively. Get in touch with Roof Maxx today to see if your roof is a good fit for our eco-friendly, affordable roof treatment.Maximum Snow Load On a Roof: Your Ultimate Guide | Roof Maxx

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