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6 Things You Can Do to Protect Your Roof and Skylights from Snow Loads

December 22, 2020

At this time of year, especially in northern climates like in Alaska and the other northern states, snow becomes a serious issue for many homeowners. Snow loads on residential and commercial roofs take a toll, causing everything from ice dams to roof collapse and a variety of other problems that lead to leaks and structural damage.

Whether you’re a homeowner or a commercial building owner, there are many things you can do to stop damage to your roof and skylights this winter. By maintaining your property and installing or using products designed to help you through the long winter, you can prevent the type of damage that could cause serious structural problems to your residential or commercial structure.

Image by Tuomas Laatikainen from Pixabay


1. Use a roof rake.

A roof rake is a simple tool designed to pull snow off a roof. Roof rakes are primarily used for residential properties. If you have a relatively low roof, you can use a roof rake to pull snow off your roof and onto the ground below. This dramatically reduces the snow load on your roof and reduces the chance of damage from melting snow. Some tips:

  • Follow manufacturer’s instructions.
  • Don’t get on the roof itself. If you have to get on the roof, call a professional roofer to get help. 
  • Stay away from the snow falling from your roof, as heavy snow can be dangerous. 


2. Use heating cables.

Heating cables melt the snow on your roof to prevent an ice dam from forming. You can learn more about ice dams and the damage they cause to homes in our recent article, Snow loads (deadweight) impact on skylights.

Heating cables prevent ice and snow from building up on your roof, which can also protect your roof in other ways. With ice and snow melting away, this prevents snow weight from causing structural problems. Using heating cables can also prevent large rooftop snow slides that can cause injury or great inconvenience. 

3. Maintain your roof.

Roof leaks can compromise the structural integrity of your roof, which can leave your roof more vulnerable to problems caused by snow load. There are many things you can do to maintain your roof, including:

  • Inspect your roof and attic periodically for signs of a leak or damage. On the outside, look for curling or missing shingles, sagging areas. On the inside, look for wet wood, dark stains, and mold. 
  • Have your roof serviced by a roofing professional. Roof work requires skill and technical expertise. Trying to fix your own roof can lead to bigger problems down the road. 
  • Install quality roofing material when it’s time to replace. Don’t skimp on your new roof! Hire a skilled, reputable contractor. Know the warranty for your roofing material and the contractor’s warranty. Install a roof that is designed to last at least two decades, if not longer.
  • Get pest problems properly remediated. Termites and other pest problems can cause structural damage that would compromise your roof’s ability to withstand heavy snow loads. If your home has termites, get the problem addressed quickly, and make any necessary repairs in a timely manner. 

4. Know the different kinds of snow.

Different kinds of snow create different snow loads. Wet, compacted snow is much heavier than light, fluffy snow. You can read more about different snow loads and snow weight in the FEMA guide to snow loads.

5. Have snow professionally removed.

If your home’s roof is inaccessible, have snow professionally removed when it’s overloaded with wet, heavy snow. Not sure how much is too much? Contact a roofer to find out. 

6. Install strong skylights. 

Standard skylights are the weak point in any roof, but not VTECH skylights. VTECH skylights are made from aliphatic polyurethane and LoĒ³ 366 glass to create a durable, leak-free, solid-state skylight. Our products were designed to withstand years of inclement weather, including harsh snows like you can expect in the northern parts of the continental US and Alaska. Read more about tests we’ve performed here to learn more about how VTECH skylights can withstand heavy snow loads and other common problems. 

Contact VTECH Skylights

VTECH Skylights use RIM technology to create skylights designed to last longer than other skylights on the market. We’re so confident in our products that we’ve got one of the best warranties available. Our skylights can withstand decades of heavy snow and inclement weather. Contact VTECH Skylights to find out more.

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