LACONIA — With recent heavy snow and rain and freezing rain in the forecast for early today, many city homeowners have been busy in the last few days cleaning off their roofs or hiring someone to do it for them.
Mike Greer and Kris Kessler of Lakes Region Chimney Pro were out yesterday morning clearing a roof in South Down Shores and had five more lined up for the rest of the day.
''We'll probably finish up real late,'' said Greer, who said that parts of the moderately pitched roof they were working on had three feet of snow and that the piles of snow which accumulated next to the home as they shoveled were a foot or more higher than the tops of the first floor windows.
''While I was up near the peak of the roof shoveling this morning I had two calls from people who wanted their roofs cleared off. We've got so any calls that I'm having to turn people down because we can't get to them,'' said Greer.
Kessler said that the sudden demand has come due to concerns of possible roof collapses due to the heavy weight of the accumulated snow and rain and freezing rain which was predicted to start last night.
''We've only done a half dozen roofs all winter, but now we're getting bombarded with calls,'' said Kessler.
Both he and Greer will be out shoveling roofs all day today, as will Mike Mooney of Gilford, a mechanic at Irwin Marine, who has a sideline business with his brother clearing roofs. ''People have been calling us like crazy and we're putting a crew together to help us out,'' said Mooney.
Laconia Fire Chief Ken Erickson said that the most recent rash of collapsed roofs due to heavy snowloads came in 2008, when the city saw 22 buildings collapse.
''They can come down with little or no warning and it's not just flat roofs which collapse,'' said Erickson, who says that rain is particularly dangerous as it adds a great amount of weight to the roof.
''A gallon of water weighs eight pounds and the snow acts just like a sponge, soaking up all that weight. Water-soaked snow can weigh as much as 50 pounds per cubic foot,'' he says.
Erickson says that ice dams at the roof line can prevent water from draining, adding to the strain on the roof and making the water back up and leak into a home.
He says that snow on pitched roofs should be removed with a roof rake and that snow removal from flat or slightly pitched roofs should be removed from the edges first and not moved from the middle to the edge until the edge is cleared. "You have to work in stages and not add too much weight to the roof with snowblowers or a lot of shovelers,'' said Erickson.
He said that while removing excessive snow and ice buildup homeowners should be careful not to damage gas and oil service to the building; keep all chimneys and vents clear to prevent carbon monoxide from backing up into the building; and keep all exits clear of snow, so occupants can escape quickly if a fire, or other emergency, should occur.
CAPTION shovelroof 3,4
Mike Greer and Kris Kessler of Lakes Region Chimney Pro shovel snow from the roof of a home in South Down Shores in Laconia. They shoveled six roofs yesterday and were totally booked for today. (Roger Amsden photo for the Laconia Daily Sun)