Snow load on Steamboat roofs inching upward
Snowfall likely will not damage roofs yet
January 22, 2011
Steamboat Springs — At this time in 2008, Jeremiah McGuire recalls the snow on Steamboat Springs roofs being as deep as 9 feet.
Steamboat Ski Area would close the season with 489 inches of snow that year, and many homeowners scrambled to get it off their roofs. Snowfall has not been quite as abundant this ski season, but some homeowners still are choosing to avoid potential costly roof repairs and have the snow removed before it causes problems.
"There is nowhere near enough snow (to create issues) unless you have roof damage or leaks," said McGuire, owner of High Point Roofing. "I do expect to get busier with snow removal, mainly because there have been a lot of sub-par roofs installed here."
McGuire said there are three reasons to have snow removed from roofs. The first is the snow load, or the weight of the snow on the roof.
"That's not here yet," he said.
The second reason is if ice dams are forming and causing leaks. Unusually large snow events also can call for snow removal.
Luke Studer, a structural engineer with Studer Engineering, said it's definitely a good time for people to consider clearing the snow, especially on older roofs.
Signs the snow load is affecting your home include windows and doors that are not shutting properly as well as cracks in the drywall.
Well-installed modern roofs are engineered to withstand varying snow loads, depending on where you live, Studer said. Homes near the mountain typically are built to carry as much as 95 pounds per square foot. Downtown homes may only be required to withstand 75 pounds.
Chris Ward, owner of Snow Wonder snow removal, said the current snow load is about 45 pounds per square foot.
"It's not worrisome to where people need to be worried," Ward said.
Snow Wonder's business has doubled this year compared with last year, Ward said.
"There is work out there for all of us, which is pretty nice because last year was such a bust," he said.
Regardless, there are signs that people are being careful with their money.
Some homeowners and condo associations are holding off on removing snow, Ward said.
"The bigger condo companies are trying to save the money, and even small-home owners are trying to put it off to the last minute," he said.
Ward said companies charge $30 to $50 per man-hour, depending on the complexity of the roof.
"If you do it now, you won't have to do it a second time" this winter, Ward said.