Issue: 85 February 23, 2003
and Ice Damage
As I enjoyed
the recent inclement weather, with an inoperative furnace, parked in front
of my fireplace, imagination was interrupted by the following thoughts:
gaze around. Problems are everywhere.
sights leading me to despair.
I stop, look up and grin,
I think of all the troubles I ainít in!
We do not face many of the severe
problems that those do in areas of heavy snowfall. My daughter and
son-in-law in Connecticut and granddaughter and her family in New York
are faced with such now as they try out their new snow blower digging out
from the recent storm. Most of us in the old North State enjoy the
graceful beauty of snow covering the landscape in pristine white. Our
reverie is often interrupted when we begin to think of the problems that
snow and ice can bring. We begin to wonder; will the roads be passable; will the
power go off; will school be cancelled, again; will both client and I be
able to make our scheduled appointment; will it disadvantage a showing;
how will I stay warm when the old furnace just died?
We need to be aware that heavy snow
and/or ice can adversely affect our homes. Climatic conditions sometimes
cause unusually heavy accumulations, causing structural problems, damage,
and injury from snow sliding from the roof or leaks from ice dams.
Not many years ago, we experienced a
major institutional building collapse, not in the weather plagued north,
but here in Winston-Salem. Thank God, it occurred during the night and the
building was vacant at the time.
Drifting snow and uneven loading on the
roof often cause structural problems.
Large amounts of snow and ice sliding from an upper roof can
overload a lower roof. A
properly constructed roof system handles most of these situations. Many
homes have inadequate roof bracing, collar beams and knee bracing missing
or removed in renovation. Proper
bracing keeps the rafters from swaging, and is essential for the roof to
bear unusual loads from wind, snow and ice encountered during severe
weather conditions. The absence of these features and obvious deficiencies in
roof framing are noted in the Home Inspection Reports and should be
corrected, their omission can be a potential disaster waiting to happen.
It isnít enough to consider that the roof has survived all of these
years. It only takes one unusual weather condition to bring your roof down
on your head.
and Ice Sliding from Roof
think it happens here? Take a look at the picture made this week in
Pfafftown. Significant accumulations of snow or ice can slide off roofs
and damage anything it strikes and has even caused injury to people.
We tend to think that snow is light and fluffy.
When mixed with sleet or rain it becomes heavy, dense creating
massive destructive potential. Remember
as a child how a wet frozen snowball hurt when someone hit you with it?
A serious slide from the roof would be like several hundred of
those snow balls striking at once. Children
and elderly people are especially susceptible to injury or even death from
roof snow slides.
The danger zone from slides is under the
eaves of a house. Gutters are
usually the first thing damaged. In
the recent snow we saw, or heard of, several instances where gutters were
ripped from their mounting by sliding snow and ice requiring replacement
Shrubbery is often damaged.
The weight of a modest snow slide added to the weight of the snow
or ice accumulated on shrubs can cause severe damage necessitating
replacement or special pruning and years of nurturing to help it regain
its former shape and vigor.
The weight and impact of falling snow
may overload canopies, awnings or porches causing them to collapse.
It can also damage steps, handrails and wooden decks.
A serious snow slide can damage
electrical entry wiring, propane tank piping, heat pumps and air
conditioners. Vehicles or
equipment parked under the eves are at risk.
Slides will sometimes curl under the
eves and damage a window remember the picture in Pfafftown?
on the Roof
Metal vent pipes from furnaces, heaters,
fireplaces, exhausts and dryers are sometimes damaged or sheared off.
This may cause serious water damage, permit the entry of flue gases
into the home or even start a fire.
The sliding snow and ice sometimes tears
asphalt shingles or damages other roofing materials.
of Snow Slides
Snow slides occur more readily on smooth
roofing material such as metal, glass, slate and etc.
Snow slides when the temperature rises
above freezing and melts a layer of snow lubricating the roof surface and
destroys the cohesion of the snow mass. Snow may also slide if it
accumulates above a weak layer of frost.
of Damage from Snow Accumulation and Slides