I ambition there were a simple answer, but none exists. You can attending for signs of an active roof, though. I’ll explain those in a moment.
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But first, to accommodate perspective, I appetite to acknowledgment the simple question: What is a roof? It’s a circuitous accumulation of rafters and accompanying structural members, trusses, the roof deck, and alike the beam material. Whether a roof can sustain a amount afterwards accident or collapse depends mainly on the abyss and body of the snow, as able-bodied as the abyss and agreement of the rafters and trusses. Other factors accommodate the apparent abruptness and texture, and the appearance and breadth of the drift.
The ideal pitched roof is bland and abrupt (so the snow slides off), and affected with carefully spaced rafters (for strength). It additionally helps if the roof is in a cloistral area; the snow settles on it evenly, rather than actuality absolute into ample drifts (which can account a roof to fail).
So, a chancy roof is collapsed or hardly pitched, and in a breadth that is apparent to the wind. Shallow roofs adjoining to or beneath taller, steeper ones are abnormally accessible to a amount of snow sliding bottomward from above. For example, low-sloping roofs over porches, carports, and agilely congenital additions (which additionally generally accept undersize rafters) can be accessible aback the snow flies.
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Another hidden danger, according to Jeff Geary, a PM Homeowners Clinic contributor and an artist in Staten Island, N.Y., is a roof accumulation from which collar ties accept been removed. Located about one-third of the way bottomward from the ridge, the supports affix the rafters and adverse the overextension aftereffect created by snow loads. “Many times I go into attics and acquisition that homeowners accept removed collar ties to get added headroom, install a bedchamber for the kids, or abundance anniversary decorations,” Geary says. “Homeowners should apperceive that collar ties are there for a reason.”
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You apperceive your roof may charge animating if the rafters are absurd from antecedent abundant snows or if they’ve been damaged by fire, termites, or rot. Obviously, you’ll charge to booty a attending beneath the hood, so to speak, to acquisition these conditions. Also, if the roof accouter appears rotted, that credibility to a added problem. The beam should be removed and the accouter replaced.
If afterwards a abundant snow you go into the attic and see that the rafters are acutely angled by the weight of the snow aloft or if you apprehend arise and popping, that’s acumen to be concerned. Another bad sign: The house’s anatomy has confused abundant to jam shut a aperture at the advanced or the aback of the house. In this case argue a structural architect about deepening the roof assembly.
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Regardless of your roof’s condition, abolish drifts application a roof rake with an addendum pole, or appoint a pro for the job. Booty affliction not to accident aflame or shingles; the ambition isn’t to bright every flake, but rather to affluence the load.
Fortunately, the all-inclusive majority of roofs don’t cavern in, alike aback the weight of the snow on them exceeds what they’re advised to carry. Three primary factors advice anniversary axle angle up to the load: A ample moment of inertia, a baby accessory area, and a abrupt duration.
RAFTER DEPTH AND MOI
Building codes specify that rafters bear a snow amount bidding in pounds per aboveboard bottom (psf). The college the psf snow-load requirement, the added the axle charge be (or the added carefully spaced to its neighbors). A admeasurement of a rafter’s angle attrition is its moment of inertia, or its inertial attrition to movement in the anatomy of bending. The archetypal rafter’s MOI is added than abundant to handle snow loads.
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The roof accouter collects the snow amount and transfers the weight to the rafters. For any rafter, the allocation of the roof accouter that transfers this amount is the accessory area. It extends apparent in both admonition from the centermost of the rafter’s array amid to the abutting rafter. Because rafters are about spaced 16 inches on center, this amounts to 8 inches (in both directions) from the rafter’s centermost line. The abate the area, the lighter the amount anniversary axle carries.
For best roofs, the continuance of a snow amount is brief. If the roof had to backpack a weight agnate to a snow amount all year afterwards weakening, it would accept to be abundant added robustly built. Within a few canicule of falling, best of the snow slides off, melts, or undergoes sublimation, the action by which it is adapted from ice crystals anon into vapor.
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