A heavy snowfall year can be hard on your roof. Not only is there danger of collapse simply from the weight of the snow, there is also the damage that goes unseen until the spring thaw. At this point failure to act could result in major damage such as leaks or the need for premature replacement. The following guide can help you manage your roof care during a heavy snow year.

Remove snow loads properly

For many people the main concern with a heavy snow load is the weight and the fear of a roof collapse. Fortunately most roofs in snowy climates can hold quite a bit of weight per local codes, but wet, heavy snow can sometimes push the outer limits of these requirements. This means you want to remove the snow, but the worst thing you can do is walk on a snowy, icy roof. Fortunately, there's a tool – the snow rake – that can let you handle the issue from the ground.

These rakes have a blunt plastic or rubber edge that prevents damage to your shingles. To properly use them, fully extend the handle and then draw the rake down the roof from peak to eaves. Never push upward as this can break the shingles. It's also a good idea to stand aside so you don't get buried underneath the avalanche.

Perform a spring inspection

Once the snow and ice have melted, a prompt inspection is in order. This will let you catch any issues left behind by the snow and cold. The following are a few things to look for:

  • Check inside the gutters for a heavy accumulation of gravel. This indicates that the shingles are breaking down.

  • Visually inspect for popped nails on the shingles. Freeze and thaw cycles can cause nails to pop, which means the shingles may fly away in the spring breeze.

  • Watch for curling edges on the shingles, particularly around the eaves. Ice build up under the shingles in winter can cause the edges to curl, which means the shingles need replaced.

  • Verify that the gutters are adjusted properly under the eaves so that the water doesn't leak behind them and it drains properly into the downspouts. A combination of snow weight and roof raking sometimes knocks the gutters out of alignment.

Fore more help in ensuring your roof's integrity both during and after a heavy snow year, talk to a roofer in your area.