Heavy Snow Can Damage and Collapse Roofs; What You Should Know

Posted 12:25 p.m.

Heavy snow can significantly damage roofs and there are reports in our area of roofs collapsing. Look around your home and building to look for warning signs.  There are steps you can take to avoid roof damage.

What To Look For

For Homes
Most homes have sloped roofs, which means a lower risk of roof collapse. If you have a flat roof on your home, pre-manufactured home or a portion of your home, monitor the ceiling. Look for the following signs of roof distress:

  • Sagging ceiling beneath the flat roof.
  • Leaking water dripping through the ceiling.
  • New cracks on your ceiling drywall or plaster.
  • Popping, cracking or creaking sounds.
  • Doors and/or windows that can no longer be opened or closed.

For Commercial Buildings
Most commercial buildings are designed to accommodate a roof snow load of 24 inches of dense, compacted snow. Pay attention to the following warning signs of roof distress:

  • Sagging roof members including steel bar joists, metal decking, wood rafters, wood trusses and plywood sheathing.
  • Leaking water dripping through the ceiling.
  • Popping, cracking and creaking sounds.
  • Sagging ceiling tiles and/or sagging sprinkler lines and sprinkler heads.
  • Doors and/or windows that can no longer be opened or closed.

What You Can Do

  1. If you notice any of the warning signs listed above, evacuate the home or building immediately. Call or text 9-1-1
  2. When safe to do so, clear gutters, drains and downspouts of ice and debris so that water from melting snow has a path to flow away from your home. Clear snow and ice away from exhaust vents that go through exterior walls.
  3. Be careful, falls from roofs and possible exposure to electrical wires while on the roof are serious hazards.
  4. If you are concerned about the structural integrity your home, contact a licensed structural engineer, building inspector or other qualified individual.

Stay Informed

We have many ways you can choose to stay informed during this blizzard:

8 responses to “Heavy Snow Can Damage and Collapse Roofs; What You Should Know”

  1. Sharon Lee says :

    NO plowing on our street yet! At woodridge Road, Alexandria VA 22312.
    How does VDOT prioritize? I phoned VDOT and shared that my 88 year old mother has emergent cardiac surgery tomorrow and they could care less. Our only option is calling 911 tomorrow.
    It took one week for a plow to remove snow on our public street in 2010. THIS IS UNACCEPTABLE! Even one pass would enable our 4 wheel drive to get out.

    VERY DISAPPOINTED in the lack of preparedness by Fairfax County/VDOT.

    • Fairfax County Emergency Information says :

      Sharon, we are sorry to hear about your experience. Chairman Bulova is taking messages at chairman@fairfaxcounty.gov email address. The chairman is happy to help with difficulties you may be having, including forwarding your messages to VDOT.

      • Charles Kohnstam says :

        His thanks for this comment site We have an entire neighborhood (maverick lane and mustang drive) 33 houses that has been missed, we have 3ft + snow throughout the development and small truck plow tried to enter our neighborhood and gave up. We have a neighbor that is supposed to have chemo and radiation tomorrow and worst case we will walk her to the fire station at west ox and centerville as I had todo because of a snow blower accident to my hand. We have tried to get through to Vdot through several ways (all of us have tried ) to let them know they will need heavier equipment to get to us . We can’t tell if they know as the site has no information (assigned or otherwise ) on our area. Can you please relay this to them. Thanks in advance for any help you can give us!

  2. Anonymous says :

    what is the status of Schools and County gov for tomorrow?

  3. Anonymous says :

    Are schools open tomorrow?