How not to die because of your roof

How not to die because of your roof

The title of this article may seem like an easy thing to achieve – don’t climb on it. But this is not about falling off your roof. Let me give you some background.

I am from England. In England, the weather ranges from around 80°F (26°C) on occasional days in the summer, to around 32°F (0°C) on occasional days in the winter. Most of the year, the weather hovers around 50°F (10°C) to 60°F (15°C). The air is more humid in England than in much of the world, and so those temperatures feel a little hotter and colder than they would otherwise, but mostly England’s weather is not going to hurt you.

I now live in New Hampshire. In the summer, it gets hot and stays hot for a couple of months. And in the winter, where we are now, it stays below 32°F (0°C) for most of two months as well. Tomorrow, it is supposed to get down to 10°F (-12°C) which is well below southern England’s record low, and then there will be a -30°F wind chill, making frostbite possible in less than half an hour.

This is a segue, but it seems to me that New Hampshire should have better provisions in place for homeless people, especially as most are the victims of the absence of mental healthcare, given that the temperatures are so extreme and actually dangerous. Instead it is England that is more humane.

Anyway, these more severe weather variations lead to interesting effects. It snows reasonably frequently and recently we received around 4 inches (10cm) of snow in one day.

Last year, my wife and I bought ourselves a home. It has a very steep roof which is made of metal tiles. In New Hampshire, most houses have tiles (shingles as the Americans call them) made of asphalt. I believe this is for two reasons, although I haven’t done the research: They’re cheaper than ceramic tiles as used in England, and they are not dangerous if they are blown off by a stray hurricane. In fact in a hurricane, their flexibility allows them to survive.

The rest of the homes in New England (of which New Hampshire is a part) have metal roofs. These are better lasting, but more expensive to install. But also, if you know anything about the properties of materials, you will know they conduct heat well.

As the sun and, presumably, some leaking heat from our home, heats the tiles, the snow melts in a thin layer against the tile, and then the whole roof’s worth of snow falls at once in an avalanche. This has two effects: First, it scares my wife and I half to death, and second, it makes walking near the doors after a snow storm a game of Russian roulette.

Though I called this, “How not to die because of your roof” what I should have called it is, “Hey guys, how can we avoid dying because of our roof?” Any ideas?

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