West Virginia gets about 33 inches of snow every single year. If too much of it ends up on your roof, not only can it cause major damage, but it can also be an insurance concern. Potential injuries can also arise from trying to remove heavy snow from your roof.
Make sure to review your homeowners insurance coverage with your West Virginia independent insurance agent before winter ever rolls around. They'll make sure you're equipped to deal with heavy snowfall and much more. But first, here's a breakdown of how heavy snow can damage your roof and what to do about it.
How Much Snow Is Too Much on a West Virginia Home’s Roof?
The accumulation of snow on your roof can be a threat not only to your property, but to your family members and guests at your home as well. Here are just a few reasons why heavy snowfall is a threat to your West Virginia home's roof:
- If you have an older home, it's especially vulnerable to instances of roof collapse under the weight of snow and ice.
- Lighter, fluffy snow averages a weight of only three pounds per square foot, but in contrast, heavy, packed snow often weighs up to 21 pounds per square foot.
- Ice accumulation can pose even more of a threat to your roof, as it weighs up to 57 pounds per square foot.
- Trapped, melting snow and ice on your roof can lead to the formation of ice dams, which can trap water on your roof and lead to even worse problems for you.
A common threat in winter is not only heavy snowfall and ice accumulation but also ice dams on your home. The threat of possible ice dams provides even more reason to clear your roof from trapped precipitation before the problem worsens.
How Can Ice Dams Damage My West Virginia Home?
Ice can act as a literal dam for the snow and ice that's melting on your roof when the buildup thaws and melts unevenly. This can happen if your gutters remain frozen after the snow/ice on your roof has already begun melting.
Ice dams can threaten your home by:
- Causing serious damage to your roof if snow and ice stay trapped
- Causing your roof to actually collapse
- Causing freezing damage inside the home after a water leak
- Creating mold or mildew growth indoors after water leaks inside
- Destroying indoor contents like furniture or electronics
- Sending water indoors as it seeps through cracks around windows and doors
- Leading to indoor flooding, most often in the basement
Knowing why it's necessary to prevent ice dams from forming can help further inspire you to be on the lookout for them this winter.
How Does Home Insurance Help after Snow or Ice Damage?
Ice dam damage to your home is typically covered by your home insurance, except for damage caused to personal property and other structures, according to insurance expert Jeffery Green. Incidents of roof collapse because of ice dams and trapped snow and ice are also often covered by home insurance. You'd also be covered if you had to stay at a temporary residence like a hotel after your roof collapsed thanks to your home insurance's additional living expenses coverage.
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When Is Ice Damage Not Covered by Your Home Insurance?
Destroyed or damaged personal property due to the weight of ice isn't often covered by your home insurance. Also, if your indoor property gets damaged due to water runoff inside the home, that's not likely to be covered either. It's also imperative to keep your home's thermostat set to an appropriate temperature if you'll be going on a long vacation, as frozen plumbing due to a homeowner's negligence is not covered by home insurance.
Typical Guidelines for Snow Removal on West Virginia Homes
Fortunately, you don't have to be stuck with a heavy load of snow and ice on your roof. There are a few action steps you can take to remove it, including:
- Being aware of how much weight your roof can hold: Check your specific home's specs about how much weight your roof can support. The typical limit is 20 pounds per square foot before a collapse occurs.
- Calculate how much weight might be on your roof: A typical equation to calculate the weight of snow on your roof is to factor that every 10 inches of fresh snow creates about five pounds per square foot of weight on your roof. Knowing this, you can determine that many roofs can only hold a maximum of four feet of snow before a potential collapse occurs.
- Clear your roof quickly if needed: You can hire a professional to clear your roof for you, or you can do it yourself. There are many products you can buy for this process, including a snow rake.
- Keep checking your roof's status: Note any strange sounds or appearances coming from your roof after a heavy snowfall. If you see signs of sagging or hear strange popping noises, get to work clearing off the snowfall ASAP.
Though snow removal from your roof isn't always necessary, if there's been a major snowstorm or even back-to-back snowstorms, it might become imperative. These steps can help you avoid unnecessary property damage and insurance claims during a particularly harsh winter.
How to Protect Yourself Best from Snow and Ice Damage in West Virginia
It's a fact that it snows in West Virginia. But snow doesn't have to mean damage to your home or injury to your family or guests. Follow these guidelines to protect yourself from snow and ice damage to be ahead of the game:
- Order home inspections for temperature leaks when it's still warm outside. Also get your home's insulation professionally inspected.
- Routinely clear your gutters of all kinds of debris.
- Make sure to keep any leaks in your home sealed at all times, no matter the weather.
- Quickly clear your roof from heavy snow and ice buildup if you suspect it's a problem.
- Work together with your West Virginia independent insurance agent to update your homeowners insurance.
Having your home insurance good to go before winter rolls around can help you recover much faster after a major snowstorm causes property damage. But it's also helpful to follow all the action steps from this list to prevent damage from occurring in the first place. Cold weather and snow don't have to mean disaster for your home or your family if you're adequately prepared for it.
Why Choose a West Virginia Independent Insurance Agent?
A West Virginia independent insurance agent can simplify the process by shopping and comparing insurance quotes for you. Not only that, but they’ll also cut through the jargon and clarify the fine print so you'll know exactly what you’re getting.
West Virginia independent insurance agents also have access to multiple insurance companies, ultimately finding you the best home insurance coverage, accessibility, and competitive pricing while working for you.
TrustedChoice.com Article | Reviewed by Jeffrey Green
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