Snow Good: Don’t Allow Snow to Accumulate Into a Problem

In December of 2010 the roof of the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome in Minneapolis, MN, a nationally recognized sports venue, collapsed due to heavy snow accumulation and severe winter weather. Snow and ice accumulation can cause several potential problems for you, so here are some things you should know about snow.

Most homeowners insurance policies provide coverage for any property damage that you could incur should the weight of accumulated snow and ice cause a roof or a porch to collapse or if tree limbs that fall from the weight of snow or ice damage your property. However, it’s important to know how much coverage you have if that happens, because the price could be more than you might think. If a roof collapses on your home in addition to the physical damage to the structure of your house or a garage, it could also damage your belongings inside the home, and the exposure to the elements could lead to additional problems.

Before severe winter weather hits…

Have your home inspected. A home inspection can identify whether your home is vulnerable to roof collapses if a heavy amount of snow and ice accumulates. It’s better to identify the problems and take proactive action to protect your home rather than have to wait for damage to occur.

Trim the trees. Dead tree limbs or limbs that hang over a porch or roof should be trimmed, as they’re more likely to break off and cause property damage under the weight of ice and snow.

If you do experience a winter storm that leaves your home under heavy snow, there are some steps you can take to reduce the chances of a roof collapse or damage to your property from snow and falling ice.

Safely remove snow and ice with a snow rake- A snow rake, or roof scraper, has a large blade like a snow shovel, but rather than a shorter handle a snow rake often has an extra-long handle or telescoping handle that allows you to reach a roof while standing on the ground. When using a snow rake be careful to not stand directly beneath the roof and to stand back from where snow, ice or other debris will be falling from.

Remove your vehicles and other belongings from harm’s way. If you have a driveway that runs alongside of your house, avoid parking your car along the house while there is ice and snow on the roof. Ice can form beneath packed snow, and if it falls it could seriously damage a car. If you have a thaw following a winter storm, the melting snow and ice can become loose, and there’s an increased chance that it could fall.

Avoid going out onto your roof. If it can be avoided, do not go out onto your roof to clear snow. In addition to the pitch of the roof presenting a risk for falling, snow and ice can make an already risky activity even more dangerous. If you can safely clear snow, ice and debris from an upstairs window while remaining inside the house, remove what you can. If necessary and if conditions allow, use a ladder to safely reach the roof with a snow rake.

Hopefully your home will make it through the winter without any of these issues, and if there is a storm, you can take these few steps to make sure that the snow and ice don’t accumulate into a problem.

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