Snow Removal: Are You Covered? Are You Sure?

Dangers of Snow-Covered Roofs

Picturesque snow-capped houses and barns are charming, but don’t be fooled by their delicate beauty. Snow has a great deal of weight, and that weight increases immensely when rain, ice and sleet are added to the mix. Two feet of snow on the average-sized roof can be the equivalent of 38,000 pounds, or 19 tons, NBC News reports. All of this weight puts stress on your roof and weakens its structure.

man using snow rake

Pole buildings that were exposed to collapse conditions last year but somehow stayed up are now at a greater risk of collapse. When a pole building carries a load at, near or above the snow load rating for an extended period of time, the Gusset Plates, Bottom Chords and Webs weaken, often permanently. Most AG buildings are rated to 38 pounds per foot when built; some of these (because of the loads from last year) may now only hold 28 pounds before they collapse. That’s the bad news.

The good news is, timely snow removal from roofs, shoring up of bottom chord and the addition of knee bracing will restore the buildings to 38 pounds or better. We do recommend that you consult a professional building contractor before doing any structural alterations on your own.

Before attempting to remove snow from roofs, take note that clearing roofs can be a dangerous task. Think twice before jumping on the roof with a shovel in hand. Most officials don’t support the idea of people climbing onto their roofs to remove the buildup, as the weight of a person may be just enough to trigger the roof to collapse. Also, taking the wrong step on an icy roof can easily send you sliding down a slippery slope.

How Do You Remove Snow from the Roof?

Once snow buildup occurs or ice dams forms, using a roof rake is the best option that doesn’t require spending cash on a professional. The rake has an extended handle, which enables you to pull snow off the roof — from the safety of the ground.

Insurance Coverage for Snow Removal

Rural Mutual receives a number of inquiries regarding whether our policy covers snow removal from a roof to prevent ice damming. Our property policies with Rural Mutual Insurance cover direct physical loss, not the maintenance required to prevent a loss from occurring. There are also situations where we do exclude collapse on some buildings as well as some roof structures, so it is important to review your policy.

We do cover the internal water damage from an ice dam, but we do not cover snow removal to prevent ice dams.

Ice Damming is a well-known and well documented condition. Property owners should be aware and realize that it’s their responsibility to maintain their properties to prevent such conditions. Taking preventative measures can help reduce damage from occurring and minimize repair costs.

For more information contact your local Rural Mutual Insurance agent.


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