The Importance of Roof Snow and Ice Dam Removal in the Colorado Mountain Environment

Owning a house in the mountains of Colorado requires you to have maintenance performed on your home that other homeowners don’t have to worry about. Roof snow removal is one of them. You must monitor the depth of snow on your roof regularly and make sure there is not too much weight on the roof.

When should you have roof snow removed?

Trying to figure the weight of the snow on a roof can be subjective unless a section of snowfall may have been dry, warmer temperatures, drifting, or new wet snow, can increase the snow weight on the roof dramatically. We recommend you continually monitor your specific roof snow conditions.
Here is a rule of thumb to help you determine if you may need to be concerned.

Basic Calculation – (For a quick analysis only) This calculation uses 25% moisture density, which may be conservative. As a rule of thumb, saturated snow weighs about 20 pounds per cubic foot. The moisture content can range from about 1% to about 33% so snow can weigh from 1lb to 21lbs per cubic foot.

S= Inches of snow on roof
1.25= Weight of 1 sq ft of snow for each 1” of depth
P= Pounds per square foot

Example: My roof has 20” of snow, what would that equate to?
(20”)(1.25 lbs/sq ft)= 25lbs/sq ft
Any ice build up on the roof needs to be added. Use 5.2 lbs for every inch of thickness.
You can also check your roof snow load by weighing a foot (12”) X one-foot (12”) square of snow cut from the roof.
This will determine if your snow load s getting close to your design roof snow load.

Flat roof, patio covers, drifted snow areas and ice buildup can be high-risk areas that would increase the weight per square foot. These conditions may justify pursuing snow removal.

The roof drainage system should be checked to ensure it is not frozen or clogged with slush or ice buildup, increasing the weight dramatically.
Be aware of the potential dangers of shoveling or raking snow from a roof. Factors such as a person sliding off a roof, falling off a ladder, over exerting yourself, or injury from snow sliding on top of you may occur if you attempt to do it yourself. This kind of work is best left to professionals.

We recommend you continually monitor your roof’s snow conditions and have a plan in place as to how you will address snow removal, if needed.

If you’re thinking about having the snow and ice professionally removed from your roof, we encourage you to take these three steps:
Step #1: Make a commitment to yourself to get your roof snow removed properly. The longer they remain with heavy amounts of snow, the bigger the risk of damage to your property or person.