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CCFB News» November 2018

From the CountryWhen Winter Covers Your Roof, Make Sure to Cover Your Home

When Winter Covers Your Roof,  Make Sure to Cover Your Home!


A roof covered high in snow might provide the perfect backdrop for your holiday card photo or a soft landing pad for Santa and his sleigh.But a serious risk to your home and family may be lurking beneath that beautiful bed of white.


Heavy snow and ice buildup can routinely cause roof collapses.  Even partial collapses can cause extensive damage to the interior contents of a home or business.  And you’re not out of the storm when warmer weather begins to roll in.  Rain on top of snow can significantly add to the weight on your roof, and poor drainage can mean interior flooding.

As little as 6 inches of snow packed on your roof could cause major damage to your home—and your wallet. 


Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) research shows about $1 of every $5 paid for home and business property losses in recent years has stemmed from damage due to freezing weather, snow and water leaks.


With many areas of the country witnessing record snowfall and the wintry season lasting longer, the risk factors for roof and home damage could be snowballing.


The IBHS has some guidelines to help you determine the risk posed to your home and roof. First, the age and design of your roof are major factors:

  • Light metal buildings typically have less capacity to handle a high snow load, so it’s essential to keep all outbuildings clear as well as your home.
  • For flat roofs, the step-down area between roof sections is a potential source of roof overload because of the tendency for ice and snow collection.


Fresh snow is two to four times lighter than old snow, so your roof could hold up to four feet of fresh snow safely.  But new snow on top of old snow can multiply the risk of collapse.  Ice mixed with snow is extremely heavy—just one inch of ice can weigh as much as 12 inches of fresh snow. 


To be safe, consider hiring a licensed roof contractor to remove any snowfall over two feet.


To help reduce the risk of roof damage and flooding during the winter, take these preventative measures throughout the rest of the year:

  • Clear roof valleys and gutters of debris in the fall.
  • Caulk all cracks and openings in the foundation.
  • Inspect downspouts.  They should carry water at least five feet away from foundation walls.
  • Ensure that the surrounding landscape is graded away from your home.  
  • If applicable, test sump pumps before the wet season.  Install a battery backup system. If you do not have a sump pump in your basement, consider having a professional install a system with battery backup. 


Most home insurance plans cover roof collapse, but many older policies may not.  So don’t let your family get left out in the cold.  Check with your COUNTRY Financial representative to make sure your home and family are covered.

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