Winter Safety: How Much Snow Can a Roof Hold

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

To better understand the intricacies of roof snow weight and how much snow can your roof handle, read on. The guide below delves deeper into all the factors and helps you find out whether you should be worried about the buildup of snow on your roof.

When should you worry about snow on the roof?

There are many variables that affect how much snow a roof can hold. These include the age of the home, the quality of roofing materials, the amount of buildup, and its weight. Flat roofs or those with slight pitches, for example, can pose particular challenges.

This question is best answered through analysis by engineers who can professionally assess the structural soundness of the roof and its potential for retaining snow. This is best if done before you even purchase a property, especially if historical information about the structure is lacking.

Weight of snow

It’s important to consider not just the volume of it on your roof, but also the snow’s weight, as it can greatly vary in density. Generally, every foot of snow puts about 15 pounds per square foot of pressure on a roof. However, depending on the density, that pressure can be as low as 5 pounds or as heavy as 50 pounds for the same volume.

Here’s what the Maine Emergency Management Agency has to say about it:

  • Fresh snow: 10 to 12 inches equals one inch of water, roughly 5 pounds per square foot. Up to 4 feet of this type could be sustained before a typical structure becomes stressed.
  • Packed snow: 3 to 5 inches equals one inch of water, again around 5 pounds per square foot. A load exceeding 2 feet might be too much. 
  • Ice: One inch of ice is equivalent to one foot of fresh snow or 5 pounds per square foot.

For example, two feet of old snow and two feet of new snow could weigh as much as 60 pounds per square foot of space – which exceeds the typical load capacity of most structures.

Removing excess snow

No matter how much snow weight a roof can hold, it’s not unlikely that you’ll need some removed during a Maine winter. However, keep in mind that climbing to remove snow or ice from the roof by yourself can be quite dangerous, and both the experts and relevant authorities advise against it. This task is best left to experienced professionals. If you are concerned about the buildup on your property, there are maintenance services and even contracts you can sign to ensure seasonal removal. 

Experts will not only remove the buildup, but they’ll inspect and keep monitoring the area and let you know if there are any repairs needed, or if something needs to be replaced. And for those individuals who still opt to tackle the task themselves, it’s crucial to follow these guidelines from the Maine Emergency Management Agency

Who can help me remove the buildup from my roof in the winter?When should you worry about snow on the roof

At Horch Roofing, we would love to talk with you about your roofing needs! Whether you need snow or ice removal, help with addressing winter roof condensation, or just want to make sure your roof is ready for the winter, we’ve got you covered! We are Maine’s trusted roofing contractor, and we’ve been helping homeowners from Kittery to Bar Harbor since 2003.

We offer more than just repairs! Whether you’re in need of new asphalt shingle, standing seam metal, or EPDM rubber roofing, or seamless gutters, we’ve got you covered for residential or commercial projects. We are here to serve you. To get in touch with us, get an estimate, or request a service, simply fill out our online form or give us a call at (207) 273-1111!