As the cleanup continues following last weekend’s epic winter storm, industry experts say it’s a good idea to look up and check your roof.
Gloria Haydock, manager of consumer and industry relations for Atlantic Canada with the Insurance Bureau of Canada, said snow that melts and then freezes can get underneath singles.
“It starts lifting the shingle and then as it starts melting again, it seeps down into your home,” said Haydock.
Haydock said outbuildings like barns and sheds are most vulnerable to collapsing from heavy snow.
That was the case on Michael Ludlow’s property in Broughton, N.S. — at least one of his barns, which was vacant, partially collapsed on Monday.
“People have got to be very careful going into barns. I’m looking at anywhere from five to six feet on the barns out here,” Ludlow told Information Morning Cape Breton.
Jeremy Locke, owner of Locke’s Roofing and Construction in Glace Bay, N.S., said homes built after the 1980s have trusses built to withstand quite a bit of weight.
But if there’s more than two or three feet (60 centimetres to one metre) of compacted snow on the roof, it should be cleared off. If people are doing the work themselves, he recommends using a device known as a roof rake.
“The thing to consider most when you’re going to clear the snow off your roof is to not damage the roof material that’s keeping you dry,” said Locke.
As well, he said people should not place salt on a roof as it will cause corrosion.
Peter Keefe, the Atlantic director of operations for First Onsite Property Restoration, said it is important to have a professional remove the snow on your roof to avoid injury. He said a buildup can cause leaking and structural damage.
“Sometimes people don’t notice the damage to the trusses … until maybe somebody pops up there in the springtime and they notice it,” said Keefe. “But it can be a real significant amount of damage to a property.”
Mary Jane Hampton, a health consultant and columnist, said getting up on a roof in winter is risky business.
She pointed to a study conducted in Sweden that looked at the health consequences of removing snow from residential roofs. Only four out of 100 injuries were occupational injuries, meaning those people were presumably professionals.
“Ninety-six of those injuries were just regular people with a ladder and absolutely no imagination,” said Hampton. “And 60 per cent of injuries falling from roofs were moderate to severe and half of them were fractures. So it’s not fun.”
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Keefe said insurance losses for weather-related events were record breaking last year, with losses exceeding $3 billion across the country. That includes Nova Scotia’s devastating wildfires and flooding events.
But crews will be ready in the spring, he said.
“We are actually starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Keefe said. “We definitely do have the ability to come and service people if they do have issues with the resulting damage from an event like this.”