How Much Snow Can A Roof Hold? (Find Out Now!)

Upgraded Home Team
by Upgraded Home Team

As a homeowner, you can’t just leave roof maintenance to a building manager like you would in an apartment. One aspect of caring for your home in winter is monitoring how much snow is on the roof.

A typical residential roof can hold about 20 pounds of new snow per square foot. The exact number varies depending on your roof’s overall condition, material, and shape or pitch. It also depends on the type of snow on your roof — fresh, compacted, icy, or any mixture of the three. You can calculate the maximum capacity for your roof easily.

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Factors Affecting The Maximum Weight of Snow on Your Roof

Roofs differ in materials, size, and shape. All these factors affect how much snow your roof can hold.

Your Roof Material

Common roofing materials for snow are slate, fiberglass asphalt, and metal. These can hold more snow than others. Slate roofs are ideal for sloped roofs, which in turn, are advantageous in snowy areas.

Fiberglass asphalt shingles are reliable. They fare well in cold weather, including snowy conditions.

Metal roofs allow snow to slide off. They are also on the affordable side with aluminum costing about $4.50 per square foot. Zinc metal roofs cost $8 per square foot on average.

Your Roof’s Incline and Durability

Sloped roofs are less likely to hold onto the snow. The weight of accumulated snow is usually enough to bring it down.

Another factor to consider is your roof’s condition. Durability is affected by your home’s structure, your rafters’ condition, and your roof’s ventilation. For a professional’s opinion, contact a roof inspection specialist in your area.

The Snow’s Weight

Snow weight is measured by pounds per square foot or pounds per inch of snow depth. Fresh snow is about 4 pounds per square foot.

How Much Does Snow Weigh? Let’s Calculate

When the snow fell also affects its weight, plus what kind of snow it is.

New Snow: Fresh, powdery snow weighs less than old, compacted snow.

  • 4 feet of fresh snow = 20 pounds per square feet

Old, Packed Snow: Naturally, older snow tends to weigh more.

  • 2 feet of wet, packed, or old snow = 20 pounds per square feet

Both New and Old Snow: Often, snow builds up before the first snowfall has had time to melt. This can make calculations tricky.

  • 2-3 feet of mixed snow = 20 pounds per square feet

Icy Snow/Ice: Ice is the heaviest substance of the four.

  • 1 foot of ice = 20 pounds per square feet

Calculate How Much Snow Your Roof Can Hold

Here’s the formula and an example.

  • Weight of snow on my roof = Inches of snow x Roof square footage
  • Weight of snow on my roof = 2 inches snow x 1,500 square feet of roof
  • 3,000 pounds of snow on my roof

How Big is an Average Roof?

The typical two-story home with a square footage of about 2,300 square feet to 2,500 square feet has a roof size of 1,500 to 2,000 square feet.

How Much Snow Can a Flat Roof Hold?

A flat roof may only be able to hold about 12 inches of snow before it starts suffering damage. That’s because snow won’t slide off easily unless it melts quickly.

How Much Snow Can a Camper/Trailer Roof Hold?

A good rule of thumb is to prevent the snow from reaching 1 foot. Any more can cause leaks and structural damage.

Signs That Your Roof is Weakened or Struggling

Here are the tell-tale signs.

Cracks on Walls

If you notice new cracks on your home’s walls, especially along door frames, you may have a problem.

Cracks on Rafters

A sign of an unhealthy rafter structure is the presence of cracks. Beams may also bend or collapse if under too much pressure.

Sagging Roof

The most obvious sign of a stressed roof is sagging posture. This can spell disaster for your home if left unchecked.

New Leaks

You may find new leaks in your attic or top floors. This can mean your roof is not properly sealed, or the sealants have eroded.

When Should You Remove Snow From Your Roof?

In general, try not to let the snow reach no more than 2 feet on your roof if possible.

Ways to Prepare My Roof for Snow

Before winter arrives, take these steps to prepare your home.

  • Inspect your roof’s condition
  • Re-tile your roof if necessary
  • Seal cracks/leaks
  • Ensure your gutters are clean
  • Insulate and ventilate your attic
  • Purchase necessary equipment, e.g. a snow rake

Related Questions

What Products Do I Need for Snow Roof Removal?

Fortunately, there are many ways to remove snow safely from your roof.Snow Roof Rake: This hand-held tool is a classic. Most have telescoping poles that allow you to sweep hard-to-reach areas.Snow Roof Systems: Some snow-repellent or management systems include metal guards, snow seals, and snow pans.Snow Roof Guards: Snow guards are installed around roof edges. They help prevent thick snow from falling off the roof in huge amounts.Snow Roof Sealant/Snow Roof Insulation: Snow sealant is a coating applied to your roof.  It helps prevent leaks and weatherproof your roofing material.

How do I  remove snow from my roof with wire?

Step 1: Take one end of the wire and place it along the roof ridge.Make sure it is anchored if working alone.Step 2: Throw the other end down below.Ensure that the rope is long enough before attempting this method.Step 3: Get off the roof, and then pull down.Work your way down the roof slope, sliding under the snow. This can be a tricky way to dislodge snow, but it is easier with another person.For this option, you may need to use a ladder. Different wire options also include heated cables.Another alternative is installing a cable heating system to prevent snow buildup on your roof. Ideally, roof heating cables should be on at night only. Alternatively, keep them on if the temperature is under 40 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.

Do You Need Roofing, Siding, or Gutter Installers?

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How do I remove snow from my roof with rope?

Step 1: Throw the rope from one side of the roof to the other.

It should be a lengthy rope — or however long you need to reach from one side to the other.

Step 2: Pull on both sides of the rope.

This step may resemble a game of tug of war. This motion helps dislodge large amounts of snow. Work your way down the roof or across, depending on how you positioned the rope.

Note that this is a hands-on snow removal method that typically requires at least two adults.

Maintaining your home in the wintertime can be intimidating, especially for first-time homeowners. However, with the right tools and resources, you can make it through this season without a snag.

Upgraded Home Team
Upgraded Home Team

We are a team of passionate homeowners, home improvement pros, and DIY enthusiasts who enjoy sharing home improvement, housekeeping, decorating, and more with other homeowners! Whether you're looking for a step-by-step guide on fixing an appliance or the cost of installing a fence, we've here to help.

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