January 27, 2017 – The County of Nevada Building Department strongly encourages residents and businesses to have snow and ice cleared from roofs before the next storm cycle. This is particularly important in the Eastern Nevada County areas that are experiencing heavy snow fall.

Homeowners, tenants and businesses should be cognizant of the danger posed by heavy snow loads on roofs, and the importance of recognizing the warning signs of potential structural weaknesses. In many instances, the risks posed by accumulated snow can be mitigated by safely removing snow from roofs. Flat and low-pitched roofs (most often found on industrial buildings, but also used in certain home designs) are at the greatest risk of buckling under heavy snow and ice accumulations.

We are still early in winter and removing snow now could help avoid the need for emergency snow removal down the road, when there may be a lot of others who also need it. We typically has the highest roof snow loads in March, and there is the potential for many more heavy storms this winter.

How to Recognize Problems with Roofs
  • Sagging roofs
  • Severe roof leaks
  • Cracked or split wood members
  • Bends or ripples in supports
  • Cracks in walls, drywall, and foundations
  • Sprinkler heads that have dropped down below ceiling or ceiling tiles
  • Doors that pop open
  • Doors or windows that are difficult to open
  • Creaking or popping sounds
Tips on How to Safely Remove Snow from Roofs
  • Use a snow rake for pitched roofs (available at most hardware stores) to remove snow from your roof.
  • Start from the edge and work your way into the roof.
  • Try to shave the snow down to 2 or 3 inches on the roof instead of scraping the roof clean, which will risk damage to your shingles or other roof covering.
  • Keep all ladders, shovels and roof rakes away from utility wires
  • Plastic shovels are usually best. Metal tools may cause damage to your roof.
  • Shovel snow from flat roofs, throwing the snow over the side, away from the building.
  • Remove large icicles carefully if they are hanging over doorways and walkways. Consider knocking down icicles through windows using a broom stick.
  • Protect utility meters and piping from falling snow, icicles and melting water.
  • Wear protective headgear and goggles when performing any of these tasks.
  • Consider hiring professionals to do the job. The combination of heights plus ice makes this one of the more dangerous house chores. If you choose to do the task yourself, have someone outside with you to assist.
  • Keep gutters and drains clean, free of ice and snow, and keep downspouts clean at ground level.
  • Do not use blow torches, open flame, or electric heating devices like hair dryers or heat guns to remove snow and ice.
  • Do not try to remove ice or icicles from utility wires or meters. Call your utility company for assistance.
  • Clear snow away from all exhaust vents to prevent the buildup of carbon monoxide (CO) and the potential for dangerous CO level buildup in your home or business.
  • Check that you have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. In general, smoke alarms shall be located in each sleeping area, hallways leading to sleeping areas, and on each level.  Carbon monoxide alarms shall be installed on each level and adjacent to hallways leading to sleeping areas.The County of Nevada Building Department would also like to remind citizens to be cognizant of the dangers associated with clearing snow from solar panels (photovoltaic systems). Always consider solar panels as being energized and remember to NEVER use metal objects or tools on or in the immediate vicinity of them. Most experts strongly recommend leaving a solar panel as is.

If you have any questions and/or concerns please do not hesitate to contact the Nevada County Building Department at (530) 265-1222 or at BuildingDept@co.nevada.ca.us.

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