In the depths of the winter of 2016, a home on Cherry Drive in Steamboat Springs, CO was engulfed in flames because of snow. That’s right, cold, frozen snow! We will let you get your mind around that one for a second. Investigators from the Steamboat Springs Fire Department determined that a snow and ice slide that was triggered from the roof of the home, fell onto the gas line on the exterior of the home ruptured the pipe and found an ignition source, causing a major fire, destroying half of the duplex.
“With the recent thaw and melt of snow on roofs, Steamboat Springs Fire Rescue would like to remind homeowners to check where ice and snow has slid around gas lines,” the news release stated. “If homeowners notice any damage, they should contact their utility company, and if they smell a gas leak, evacuate the area, contact the fire department and remain a safe distance away until either the utility company or fire department determines that it is safe.”
Snow and ice, over time grow in density as the temperatures of winter fluctuate. As snow and ice build up the potential for roof slides increases for all roof types that have any slope to them. Some roofs, mostly metal roofs, are designed to have snow slide from them as snow accumulates. Although the roofs are designed for the snow to slide off, you must be aware of where snow falls and how to best keep your family and property safe. Any oversight can prove costly, both physically and financially.
It’s easy to spot some of the dangerous situations caused by ice and snow sliding off a roof. Sidewalks and parking lots located directly below the eaves, where pedestrians may be, should be areas of immediate concern. When ice and snow slide off a roof, it doesn’t care what’s below. Pedestrians can be injured, vehicles can be damaged and it can cost the building owner a lot of money. Keep in mind, the greater the slope of your roof, the faster the snow and ice can move off the roof at greater forces. Also, the longer the run, the more snow and ice sits on the roof.
Also, roofs with long runs can shed a lot of snow, snow that piles up next to the building. Piles can get high enough that the snow slides down the pile and into the building, possibly covering up vents coming out of the walls or basement windows. When that snow starts melting, that excessive water can cause damage to the building and its foundation. In some extreme cases, where large amounts of snow and ice slide from a roof we have seen damage to decks, siding and even broken windows.
On the roof itself, vent stacks are a favorite target of sliding snow. They can be bent over or even sheared off at the roofline in some cases. If a vent stack is closer to the eaves, it’s more susceptible to damage from sliding snow and ice because there is more snow piled up behind it. Any roof penetration, including vent stacks, skylights and chimneys, can all be damaged by sliding snow and ice. Gutters are great for summer rain storms can become a catch-all when it comes to sliding snow and ice. They can be torn off, causing extensive damage to the building fascia as well as the gutters themselves. Other areas of the roof that can be damaged by slides include shingles, drip edges, siding of the home, and roof valleys.
When it comes to snow accumulation, remember that as the home or business owner it is your responsibly to keep your family, workers and visitors safe from overhead dangers. Be sure to check your roof often for possible issues, and to make a call to a roofing professional if you have questions. Professionals, like Berlet Roofing, can inspect your home or business’s roof and help you to determine any potential issues and help you rectifiy them before something catastrophic happens.