3 ways to help protect your roof from collapsing under the snow

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People clear snow from the roof of their house and porch during a snowstorm in Washington, DC, on January 23, 2016. A deadly blizzard with bone-chilling winds and potentially record-breaking snowfall slammed the eastern US on Saturday, as officials urged millions in the storm's path to seek shelter -- warning the worst is yet to come. (PHOTO: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

People clear snow from the roof of their house and porch during a snowstorm in Washington, DC, on January 23, 2016. A deadly blizzard with bone-chilling winds and potentially record-breaking snowfall slammed the eastern US on Saturday, as officials urged millions in the storm’s path to seek shelter — warning the worst is yet to come. (PHOTO: NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

RICHMOND, Va. — With more than a foot of snow on ground across Central Virginia, the roads will continue to be a mess. But there is another snow hazard you might not recognize immediately. The weight of the snow on your roof.

“One square foot of snow accumulation on a roof can weigh as much as 21 pounds per square foot. On a one thousand square foot house this can be as much as 12 tons of extra weight,” Henrico Fire Lt. Danny Rosenbaum said.

Some warning signs that a roof may be stressed:

  • Sagging structural members of the home
  • Popping or cracking sounds heard
  • Doors that will no longer open
  • Newly appearing cracks in walls

If you see or hear these warning signs, call a professional structural engineer. If the roof damage is significant — get out the house and call 911, Rosenbaum said.

Since snow removal from a roof is dangerous and should only be done by a licensed roofing professional, here is what you can do around your house to help prevent roof damage.

  • While clearing snow from walks and driveways, make sure to clear snow from around the downspouts and drains so snow can melt and flow away from the house.
  • From the ground, clear gutters with long handled brush. Watch for falling ice, snow, or icicles.
  • Remember to clear snow away from dryer vents so they can function properly and not become a fire hazard themselves.