How Much Snow Can My Roof Hold?

Snow in Maine is pretty much an inevitable fact over the winter months.Our homes are often our biggest investment and protecting it is crucial, particularly when the snow on your roof begins to pile up.

Flat roofs or ones with slight pitches can offer particular challenges in keeping snow from building up.Every homeowner needs to be aware of their particular roof, its age, and potential to retain snow to ensure that it remains structurally sound when the white stuff starts to fall.

Too Much Snow?

How much snow is too much snow for your roof?  At what point is the weight of the snow on your roof dangerous? That is a question best answered through an analysis by professional engineers. The fact is, there are many variables when considering how much snow is too much. The age of the home, the age of the roof, the quality of materials, the amount of snow and the weight of the snow are just a few of the factors to think about. Homeowners should consult with engineers when purchasing a property, to determine how structurally sound their roof is. This is especially important when buying a property they do not have the roof history on.

Snow Varies in Weight

It is not just the volume of snow you need to be concerned with, it is also important to consider how much the snow weighs since it can vary in density. Generally, every foot of snow puts about 15 pounds per square foot of pressure on a roof. But when you calculate that in density, that pressure can be as low as 5 pounds or as heavy as 50 pounds, for the same volume of snow.

According to the Maine Emergency Management Agency:

  • Fresh snow: 10 to 12 inches of new snow is equal to one inch of water, or about 5 pounds per square foot of roof space, so you could have up to 4 feet of new snow before the typical roof will become stressed.
  • Packed snow: 3 to 5 inches of old snow is equal to one inch of water, or about 5 pounds per square foot of roof space, so anything more than 2 feet of old snow could be too much for your roof to handle.
  • Ice: one inch of ice equals one foot of fresh snow or 5 pounds per square foot.

As an example, two feet of old snow and two feet of new snow could weigh as much as 60 lbs per square foot of roof space, which is beyond the typical snow load capacity of most roofs.

Keeping Your Roof Free of Snow and Ice

We do not recommend that homeowners get on their roofs to remove snow or ice. This is a job best left to experienced professionals. If you are concerned about snow and ice on your roof, we offer roof maintenance services at Horch Roofing and one of the options is signing a snow removal contract for the season. We can also keep an eye out for any compromised materials that may need repair or replacement as a result of harsh weather impacts over the winter months.

The following is from the Maine Emergency Management Agency:

Removing snow safely

  • Consider hiring professionals to do the job. The combination of heights plus ice makes this one of the more dangerous house chores. If you choose to do the task yourself, have someone outside with you to assist — and to remind you not to take dangerous risks.
  • Use a snow rake for pitched roofs (available at most hardware stores) to remove snow from your roof.
  • Remember that any snow that comes down can come down on you, so stand well back and rake small amounts at a time.
  • Start from the edge and work your way up onto the roof with the rake.
  • Try to shave the snow down to 2 or 3 inches on the roof instead of scraping the roof clean, which will risk damage to your shingles or other roof covering.
  • An aluminum rake will conduct electricity. Check where the power lines enter your house, and stay well away from that area while using a roof rake.
  • Remove large icicles carefully if they’re hanging over doorways and walkways. A cubic foot of ice weighs about 62 pounds. Consider knocking down icicles through windows using a broom stick.
  • Wear protective headgear and goggles when performing any of these tasks.
  • Keep gutters and drains clean, free of ice and snow and keep downspouts clean

Things NOT to do:

As a rule, anything that would require getting on to your roof may be too dangerous for anyone except a professional with the proper training and safety gear.

  • SAY NO to climbing on ladders. Ice and snow tend to build up on both the rungs of the ladder and the soles of your boots.
  • SAY NO to using an electric heating device like a hair dryer or heat gun to melt snow or ice. Melting ice makes water, and the mixing of water and electricity is a very bad idea.
  • SAY NO to using an open-flame device to remove snow and ice. An open flame can damage roofs and gutters and even set your house on fire, definitely going from bad to worse.

Learn more at:

We would love to talk with you about your roofing needs – whether you need a new roof, a leak repair or patching or snow and ice removal, Horch Roofing has you covered!

Horch Roofing is coastal Maine’s trusted roofing contractor. We have been roofing homes from Kittery to Castine since 2003 and serve the communities of Maine from our offices in Warren and South Portland. We also have a dedicated Northern Maine sales estimator serving Hancock County and Bar Harbor. Horch Roofing installs Metal Roofing, Asphalt Shingle Roofing, EPDM Rubber Roofing, and Seamless Gutters for both residential and commercial roofing projects. We offer free roofing and gutter replacement estimates.. You can call us at (207) 273-1111 or contact us online.