How to Keep Your Roof from Collapsing

Safety tips to protect yourself from the dangers of snow buildup with rain in the forecast.

By Liz Taurasi

Rain is in the forecast and while it will certainly wash away some of the snow, Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency officials are warning residents and business owners to clear snow from their roofs to avoid the possibility of collapse, and clear storm drains to minimize local flooding - both of which can happen with rain following the amount of snow many locations had from the storm.

MEMA officials warn that dry, fluffy snow piled on roofs can act as a sponge, absorbing additional sleet and rain which can add weight and stress to structures. Flat, commercial roofs are most susceptible. Additionally, MEMA is encouraging residents to clear storm drains in their neighborhoods to minimize local flooding problems that come with rain this time of year.

Residents should also be aware that ice dams on roofs can cause water build-up with lead to interior damage, according to MEMA officials.

To minimize the risk of over-stressing a building roof due to accumulated or drifting snow, MEMA officials offer these guidelines:

  • Be on the alert for large accumulating snow build-up or snowdrifts on your roofs, particularly roofs that are flat on only have a slight pitch, as on garages, car ports or porches.

  • If roof snow can be removed, from the ground, with the use of a snow rake (available at most hardware stores), do so. Use caution, as metal snow rakes conduct electricity if they come into contact with a power line.

  • Try to avoid working from ladders, as ladder rungs tend to ice up.  Snow and ice collect on boot soles, and metal ladders.

  • Flat roofs can be shoveled clear, but only if it is determined that the roof is safe to stand upon. Exercise care when on the roof to avoid potentially dangerous falls.

  • Flat roof drainage systems should be kept clear to minimize the risk of excess roof ponding in the event of subsequent heavy rainfall or melting.

  • Large icicles can form on roof overhangs, but do not necessarily mean ice damming is occurring. Icicles overhanging doorways and walkways can be dangerous and should be carefully removed.

MEMA suggests all of the mentioned actions should only be performed by able-bodied adults, as the snow is heavy, and roofs and other surfaces may be slippery. Protective headgear and eye protection is also recommended.

Residents should also:

  • Clear storm drains along the curb.  Give water a better place to go than your cellar.

  • Also, make sure your neighborhood fire hydrants are cleared and accessible.

For additional information about MEMA and Winter Preparedness, go to www.mass.gov/mema. You can also follow MEMA updates onTwitter, Facebook and YouTube.
Heizenburg February 19, 2014 at 06:16 PM
I am unable to tell if the guy in the picture is just up there urinating. He does not seem to be practicing the safety guidelines from this article.
Matthew February 19, 2014 at 06:46 PM
Upset February 20, 2014 at 12:34 AM
What if I put the quartz heater in the attic,will that melt the ice and snow off the roof faster?
Tina Mqs February 20, 2014 at 11:40 AM
find me a dude who will clear my roof. the one who used to doesn't live here anymore. call me- i'm not kidding.


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