Snow on Roof: The Impact of Cold Weather on Roof Integrity

Snow on Roof: The Impact of Cold Weather on Roof Integrity

Posted on Nov 28, 2023

As winter arrives in Wisconsin, it brings with it the picturesque sight of snow-covered roofs. 

While the snowy landscape can be charming, it's essential to recognize that snow on the roof can have a significant impact on your property. 

In this article, we will explore the consequences of cold weather and the weight of snow on your roof, and provide valuable insights on how to protect your roof during the winter season.

The Weight of Snow on Your Roof

Snow may appear light and fluffy, but when it accumulates on your roof, it can add substantial weight. Understanding how much snow load roofs are designed to support is crucial for maintaining the integrity of your property.

Understanding Snow Load

Snow load on the roof refers to the total weight of the snow and ice present on the roof's surface. Roof structures are designed to withstand a specific amount of snow load, taking into account various factors such as the region's climate, the pitch of the roof, and the strength of materials used in construction.

In Fort Atkinson, Wisconsin, where winters can be quite harsh, building codes and engineering standards have been established to ensure that roofs can safely support the weight of snow. These standards are based on historical weather data and calculations that take into account the maximum expected snowfall.

Roof Load Capacity

The load capacity of a roof is measured in pounds per square foot (PSF). This rating indicates how much weight a roof can support before it becomes structurally compromised. In areas prone to heavy snowfall, roofs are designed with higher PSF ratings to accommodate the added weight of snow and ice.

Typically, residential roofs in Fort Atkinson are designed to support snow loads ranging from 20 PSF to 40 PSF, depending on various factors. Commercial and industrial buildings may have even higher load capacity requirements.

Factors Affecting Snow Load

Several factors can influence the actual snow load on your roof, including:

  • Type of Snow: Not all snow is the same. Wet, heavy snow can weigh significantly more than light, dry snow. The moisture content of the snow can impact the load.
  • Snow Depth: Deeper snow accumulation exerts more pressure on the roof. Roofs with a steeper pitch may shed snow more effectively.
  • Duration of Accumulation: The longer snow remains on the roof, the more it can compact and become denser, increasing the load.
  • Previous Accumulation: If multiple snowfalls occur without the previous snow fully melting, the cumulative load can become substantial.

The Impact of Snow on Roof Integrity

The accumulation of snow, though beautiful, poses significant challenges to your property's well-being. In this section, we'll delve into the potential consequences of snow on the roof, shedding light on how it can affect the integrity of your home or business.

1. Roof Leaks

One of the most common issues caused by snow on the roof is the formation of ice dams. When warm air from your home rises and melts the snow on the roof, the water can refreeze at the roof's edge, forming ice dams. These dams can trap water on your roof, leading to leaks and water damage when the ice melts.

2. Roof Collapse

In extreme cases, the weight of accumulated snow and ice can overwhelm your roof's structure, causing it to collapse. This is a rare occurrence but a serious threat during heavy snowfall periods.

3. Gutter and Siding Damage

Excess snow and ice can also lead to damage to your gutters and siding. Ice dams can tear gutters away from the roofline and damage the siding of your home or business.

Let's shift our focus now to proactive measures you can take. In the next section, we'll discuss the importance of snow on roof maintenance and how you can protect your roof from the challenges posed by winter weather.

Snow on Roof Maintenance

Preventing the adverse effects of snow on the roof requires proactive steps to safeguard your property. In this section, we'll guide you through the essential measures of snow on roof maintenance. From the safe removal of excess snow and ice to optimizing your roof's insulation and addressing gutter concerns, these maintenance practices are crucial to maintaining the integrity of your roof during the winter season.

1. Regular Snow Load Assessments

To ensure your roof's safety during the winter months, it's advisable to have a professional assess the snow load and the structural integrity of your roof. Regular inspections can help identify potential issues and allow for proactive measures to be taken.

Remember that while roofs are designed to handle significant snow loads, exceeding their capacity can lead to damage or even collapse. This is why it's essential to monitor the accumulation of snow on the roof during the winter and take appropriate action when necessary.

2. Frequent Snow Removal

One effective way to mitigate the impact of snow on your roof is by removing excess snow and ice. However, it's crucial to do this safely to avoid personal injury or roof damage. MBA Exteriors, Inc. offers professional snow on roof maintenance services, ensuring that your roof remains safe and intact.

3. Insulation and Ventilation

Proper insulation and ventilation in your attic are crucial for managing snow on the roof effectively. This includes:

  • Adequate attic insulation: It prevents heat loss, maintains a stable roof temperature, and reduces ice dam formation. 
  • Roof ventilation: Ensures consistent airflow, controlling humidity and preventing warm air buildup that can lead to ice dams. 

To ensure proper insulation, inspect it regularly for even distribution and the right R-value. Check your roof's ventilation system for functionality, clearing vents of obstructions. This proactive approach helps minimize the impact of snow on the roof, protects your property from potential damage, and enhances energy efficiency during the winter months.

4. Gutter Maintenance

Maintaining your gutters is an essential aspect of protecting your home or business from the potential harm caused by snow on the roof. Proper gutter maintenance ensures that water from melting snow and ice is channeled away effectively, reducing the risk of damage to your property.

When gutters become clogged with leaves, debris, or ice dams, water can overflow, seeping into the roof's structure or siding. This can lead to leaks, water damage, and even compromise the foundation of your building over time. 

To prevent these issues, here are some key steps you can take:

  • Regular Cleaning: Schedule periodic gutter cleaning sessions, especially during the fall when leaves are falling, and after heavy snowfalls. Remove leaves, sticks, and any debris that might obstruct the flow of water.
  • Inspect for Damage: During your cleaning routine, check for any signs of damage to your gutters. Look for cracks, rust, or loose connections. Repair or replace damaged sections promptly to maintain the integrity of your gutter system.
  • Install Gutter Guards: Consider installing gutter guards to prevent debris from entering the gutters while allowing water to flow freely. This can reduce the frequency of gutter cleaning and help your gutter system function optimally.
  • Ensure Proper Slope: Make sure your gutters have the correct slope toward downspouts. This helps water flow efficiently and prevents pooling, which can lead to ice dams in freezing temperatures.
  • Address Downspouts: Ensure that downspouts are clear and free from obstructions. Downspouts should direct water away from your property's foundation to prevent water from pooling around the base of your building.


Don't let the beauty of snow on your roof turn into a headache this winter. The impact of cold weather on roof integrity is a serious matter, but with proper maintenance, you can ensure that your roof remains strong and resilient.

At MBA Exteriors, Inc., we understand the unique challenges that Fort Atkinson's winters pose to your roof's integrity. Our team of experienced professionals specializes in residential and commercial roofing, including maintenance, siding, gutter installation, and new roof building services. We are dedicated to providing top-quality solutions to protect your property.

Don't hesitate to get in touch with us at (920) 253-9144 or via email at [email protected] to schedule snow on roof maintenance or any other exterior services you may need. Let us be your trusted partner in safeguarding your property from the challenges of winter weather.

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