Snow load alert — protect your roof

Heavy snow loads on roofs can lead to building damage and collapse. Schools, churches, commercial and residential buildings, carports and awnings can be affected.

As winter storms loom, property owners and residents should be aware of the weight loads these storms may be creating, especially on flat roofs.

Take the following precautions to protect life and property:

  • Watch for falling snow and ice from roofs.
  • Don’t put untrained individuals on roofs to clear snow. Falls from roofs and possible exposure to electrical wires while on the roof are serious hazards.
  • Inspect roofs for leaks or structural deficiencies that may develop during the storm.
  • Clear snow and ice away from exhaust vents that go through exterior walls.
  • Clear decks of snow to reduce stress on them.
  • Make certain gutters, drains and downspouts are clear of ice and debris.
  • Inspect and repair the roof cover, flashing and gutters*.
  • Know your roof's maximum snow load.
  • Hire a structural engineer to verify the snow load threshold of the roofing system if you don’t know your roof’s snow load. This information will be important after an event when determining whether there is too much snow on the roof.


For low-slope (flat) roofs:

  • Inspect roof and repair leaks before the winter season.
  • Ice dams can also form around internal drains due to slow drainage and water freezing around the drain. If this happens, ensure there is proper sloping to the drain and the drain is working properly with no clogs. Remove all debris and other items from roof and roof drainage systems that may prevent water drainage from the roof as snow and ice melt.
  • Check that all flashing is properly secured to the building.
  • Check all sealant materials to confirm they are in good condition with no visible cracks or shrinkage.


For steep-slope roofs:

  • Inspect the roof, secure loose shingles, and repair leaks before the winter season.
  • Check and repair flashing seals around roof edges, vent stacks, skylights, and chimneys.
  • Repair or replace damaged fascia boards.
  • Ensure you have adequate attic insulation with proper ventilation. Seal attic penetrations.


For gutters and downspouts:

  • Inspect gutters and ensure they are secured to the building. Replace any missing gutter fasteners.
  • Clean gutters and interior downspouts thoroughly, removing all debris and unclogging drains.
  • Run test of gutters and downspouts to be sure water does not back up. This can be done using a hose.
  • Check downspouts to ensure they divert water away from the foundation.


After the storm:

  • Clear areas around downspouts so that water from melting snow has a path to flow away from the house or building.
  • Remove snow from side walls to prevent high snow mounds from pushing them in.
  • Temporarily shore up and brace dipping or sagging roofs or walls.
  • Signs of possible roof failure include improper operation of doors or windows, deflection of ceiling finishes or exposed beams, roof leaks or sprinkler heads moved from their normal positions
  • Owners and residents of flat roof buildings are urged to be aware of the possible snow load danger. The threat from the weight of heavy snow will remain for some time after the storm ends if cold temperatures are expected after the storm. Weather conditions won’t allow much melting to occur.

If you have questions about your building’s condition, contact a structural engineer or your local building official for an assessment of the conditions.

If you have suffered storm damage to your property, contact your Hanover agent or Hanover claims at 800-628-0250.

We encourage you to share this information with your customers or download it for use on your website or in your newsletter. Please be sure to include the following credit: “Source: The Hanover Insurance Group, Risk Solutions Dept."

Source: *IBHS

The recommendation(s), advice and contents of this material are provided for informational purposes only and do not purport to address every possible legal obligation, hazard, code violation, loss potential or exception to good practice. The Hanover Insurance Company and its affiliates and subsidiaries ("The Hanover") specifically disclaim any warranty or representation that acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein will make any premises, property or operation safe or in compliance with any law or regulation. Under no circumstances should this material or your acceptance of any recommendations or advice contained herein be construed as establishing the existence or availability of any insurance coverage with The Hanover. By providing this information to you, The Hanover does not assume (and specifically disclaims) any duty, undertaking or responsibility to you. The decision to accept or implement any recommendation(s) or advice contained in this material must be made by you.

LC DEC 2018 11-25
171-1038 (1/14)