Plenty of homeowners in the United States live with the harsh realities of winter. Residents of Rochester, New York, receive about eight feet of snow each winter, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Homeowners in cities such as Cleveland, Minneapolis, and Denver typically can expect to move more than four feet of snow. And that's just a handful of the snowiest U.S. cities.
Up on your housetop, excessive snow and ice buildup can cause both roof damage and personal injury. Here are some things to know:
Understand the dangers
Heavy loads of ice and snow can create serious problems for your home. These include:
- Injuries from snow and ice falling from sloped roofs
- Roof collapse, especially on flat roofs
- Carbon monoxide poisoning resulting from blocked chimneys and vents
- Water damage from ice dams that form on the edges of roofs and in gutters
Watch for warning signs
Recognize the signs of stress when too much snow and ice has accumulated on your roof:
- Sagging ridgeline
- Drooping ceilings
- Water leaks on interior walls and ceilings
- Jammed doors
- Cracked interior walls near the center of your home
- Creaking sounds
Avoid excessive buildup
Removing ice and snow from your roof is a dangerous job. Avoid injury by hiring a professional to fix the problem before it leads to property damage and expensive repairs. Here are some ways to prepare your home:
- Have a professional clean ice dams and snow from the roof.
- Avoid using salt or chemical snow-melt products to melt ice on the roof. These can erode shingles and gutters and potentially void the roofing manufacturer's warranty.
- Add insulation to your attic to help prevent your home's warm air from escaping into unheated attic spaces. Ice dams form when warmed attic air melts a layer of snow on the roof. This melting snow slides down the roof and refreezes on unheated overhangs and gutters. Do not attempt to "chip away" the ice formed by an ice dam as that may lead to shingle damage.
- If replacing your home's roof, have a self-sealing membrane installed under the shingles to help prevent water damage from ice dams.
- On metal roofs, install snow guards above entrances.
If your home suffers damage this winter, contact your State Farm agent to see if it's covered under your homeowner's policy. Check out more winter home maintenance tips here.
The information in this article was obtained from various sources not associated with State Farm. While we believe it to be reliable and accurate, we do not warrant the accuracy or reliability of the information. These suggestions are not a complete list of every loss control measure. The information is not intended to replace manuals or instructions provided by the manufacturer or the advice of a qualified professional. Nor is it intended to effect coverage under our policy. State Farm makes no guarantees of results from use of this information.