What to know about roof collapses caused by snow, tips from a safety expert
Apr 3, 2023, 8:00 PM | Updated: Jan 5, 2024, 3:06 pm
SALT LAKE CITY — With the Beehive State being pelted by snowstorm after snowstorm, many roof collapses have been seen throughout the state. How can homeowners prevent their roofs from collapsing?
Chief Brian Brendal with the Mountain Green Fire Protection District joins Dave and Dujanovic with hosts Dave Noriega and Debbie Dujanovic. He shares guidance on what homeowners should know about roof collapses caused by snow.
Brendal begins the segment by saying the number of homes collapsing due to the weather has been a challenge for the district.
“Certainly, very unusual,” he tells Noriega and Dujanovic. “I’ve never experienced anything like this.”
“Well, I wonder, Chief, how many houses are in danger? Because, I know it’s just incredibly difficult to clean off the roofs to get (the snow) off,” Noriega asks Brendal. “It just builds up storm after storm after storm. Are you concerned that, especially with this latest heavy snow, that there could be many more?”
Brendal says the district is “really considering” the possibility of more weather-related structure collapses.
“We’ve gotten some intel … that there has been significant structural damage to homes,” he says. “It’s really something that you shouldn’t ignore. You really should watch for the signs.”
What to do to prevent roof collapses
Brendal goes on to say that if there is a foot or two of snow on their roof, a homeowner should do something to get it off.
“A lot of the folks are a little complacent because, um, this has never occurred before, but we’ve had record snow now,” he says.
He recommends homeowners rake the snow off their roof, but they must be cautious with how they do it.
“You have to be very cautious about your pole that you’re using,” Brendal says. “That’s usually a metal pole … Those things, you know, conduct electricity and sometimes we have overhead wires.”
Along with this, Brendal recommends homeowners enlist the help of their friends and neighbors. However, they should be sure to not have too many individuals on the roof at one time.
“I drove by a house the other day when there were six people up on the roof,” he says. “That’s kind of a dangerous situation. You’re adding too much weight to the roof.”
He also advises people to talk to their insurance companies, saying they may offer suggestions of someone who knows how to safely sweep snow off of roofs.
If there is a roof collapse
If there is a roof collapse, Brendal says it’s usually in the large open areas of a structure.
“All three of the (roof collapses) that we have responded to were over the garage,” he says. “But, at the same time … it affects the entire structure.”
He says a roof collapse could push brick out of place or even cause walls to bulge out.
“You’ve got to not ignore the signs and then get out. Get out and stay out,” Brendal says. “Just because the section that you’re in didn’t collapse doesn’t mean that there isn’t a possibility of a secondary collapse. Remember these houses were not constructed for this much snow.”
In the case of a roof collapse, he advises homeowners to call 911.
“Have us come out so that we can assess the structure, but mainly so that we can shut off the gas, shut off the electricity- if it’s safe and try to prevent any further damage,” Brendal says.
Dave & Dujanovic can be heard on weekdays from 9 a.m. to noon.