When closing up cottages for the winter, most people set it and forget it. Unfortunately, this can lead to disastrous results, especially with the heavier snow loads that are expected to hit Ontario this winter, combined with colder than normal late-winter temperatures. This means that your cottage roof is going to be accumulating more snow and ice this year than usual. If you don’t intend on checking up on your cottage throughout the winter months, you may want to reconsider or be faced with an unpleasant surprise in the spring. Heavy snow and ice load on your roof can be enough to damage it, or even cause it to cave in. Here’s what you need to know about snow on your cottage roof.

How much snow is too much?
While this might seem like a simple question to answer, the truth is that there’s no definitive answer to how much snow on your roof is too much. Different roofs will be able to sustain longer periods of time with larger snow loads, and others will become damaged depending on the density and depth of the snow load. The slope of your roof is another important element, as steeply pitched roofs tend to throw snow off of them and avoid heavy drifts, whereas roofs with a slight pitch (or no pitch at all), allow for more significant accumulation of snow and the creation of large drifts.

The answer to this question will also depend on the age and condition of your roof and its components, and whether or not it’s been affected by snow accumulation in the past. While there’s no way to truly know how much snow your roof can handle, you can easily determine if your roof has been affected by a heavy snow load.

The signs of a damaged roof
One of the surefire ways to determine whether or not a snow load is affecting the integrity of your roof is to head to the attic and check on the condition of your rafters. If the rafters appear to be bent, there’s a good chance there’s too much snow on your roof. While you’re checking the attic, listen for any unusual sounds – if you’re hearing popping or cracking, it’s probably time to consult a professional. You can also look for signs of damage by checking if interior doors are sticking or have become difficult to open and close. If they have, the snow load on the roof is probably starting to distort your home’s door frames. Looking for new cracks in drywall is another way to spot damage.

Commit to removing snow, or find a contractor before it’s too late
The most effective way to avoid snow from damaging your roof is to periodically check in on your cottage throughout the season, removing snowdrifts whenever you feel is appropriate. This can be done by using a roof rake to pull accumulated snow and ice down from the roof while taking care not to damage the shingles or flashing. Remember that you don’t have to remove every inch of snow from your roof in order to get the job done – alleviating the snow load will do enough to prevent damage.

If you want to avoid the hassle of having to check on the cottage after each major snowfall or aren’t confident in your ability to remove snow from the roof, you might want to find a contractor to manage the snow load for you. If this is the case, it’s always a good idea to get in contact with somebody sooner rather than later. Schedules tend to fill up quickly during the winter, especially when snowfall is projected to be heavier than normal. Being proactive about hiring a contractor ensures that your cottage will be in good hands all winter, and will save you from having to make a day trip to the cottage. For more information about Muskoka Window & Door Centre’s high-quality line of window and door products, contact us today.