Tis the season! Snow is falling, lights are up, and holiday music is on the radio. Living in Michigan, we are no strangers to snowy roofs – but how much snow is too much, and when should we think about clearing it?

According to an article written by USA Today, roofs can typically sustain 20 pounds of snow per square foot. In their article, they outline that four feet of fresh snow roughly weighs 20 pounds, so not to fret until then.

However, living in the Lake Michigan snow belt, we know better. We have heavy, wet snow which weighs much more than the powder they are referring to. FEMA indicates that while light snow can weigh three pounds per square foot, heavy snow can weigh upwards of 21 pounds per square foot.

By this logic, we should be concerned when we receive a snow accumulation of a foot on heavy snow on our roofs, right?

Unfortunately it is not so simple. Ice – which we often see in Michigan – also needs to be accounted for, as well as the year that your house was built and the pitch of the roof. Newer houses are typically more structurally sound, and steeper pitches distribute the weight differently than a relatively flat roof.

So what is our suggestion? We recommend that you remove the snow whenever possible and whenever safe.

Remember, you should always use a roof rake and remove the snow from the ground. If this is not possible, check snow removal companies to see if they can do it for you. One last tip: always leave about two inches on your roof to prevent leaks or damage to your roof when removing the snow.