Home drywall damaged by snow build-up on roofs

While painting houses this spring, I’ve noticed an unusual, new problem.

Dear Editor,

While painting houses this spring, I’ve noticed an unusual, new problem. Heavy snow loads on roofs have caused weight-bearing walls to temporarily bow, leaving numerous screw-pops on the drywall. These appear as little round bumps along the stud-lines, on exterior and other weight-bearing walls. Every house always has a few but lately I’ve been finding some walls where almost every screw has popped. This demonstrates how much weight of snow we got and how unprepared we’ve been. I’m sorry to bring this news, so to speak, after the horse has left the barn but I want to give the heads-up, in case it happens again. I have not seen nature-induced drywall damage on this scale in over 30 years on the job. Please protect your home with your shovel! I’m not an expert on snow-loads but carpenters and architects are. The estimators in our lumberyards may also give good advice on how much snow is too much.

How to fix it, free: Hit the screw-pop flat-on with a hammer, to countersink it back into the wall. Try to make it one good, firm smack. You’ll soon catch on. Now prod the dent you’ve made lightly, with a putty-knife. Gently remove anything loose. If the whole bump comes out, that’s OK. You’re going to fill that. Inspect the hole. Has the drywall screw gone all the way through the board? If so, remove the screw and reinsert it an inch or so higher or lower on the stud. Screw it down just slightly lower than the wall. Using a putty knife, push All-Purpose Drywall cement into the holes, then scrape off any excess to minimize sanding. Please do not use Spackle or Polyfilla, because they’re harder to sand. The lumberyards sell little pails of drywall mud. Before mudding, squish the mud with your putty knife until all air-bubbles are gone, to prevent them leaving holes in your finished product which paint will not hide. Let your patches dry overnight. Then sand the patches with a block sander, to keep them flat to the wall. You can make your own sander out of a tiny piece of 2X4, with sandpaper wrapped around it. You need to fill & sand 2-3 times. Feel the sanded patches, to see if they’re level with the wall. Then dig out the leftover latex paint you once used on that wall, stir it up and prime every patch with it. Allow to dry, then sand & repaint the wall as you normally would. Strips of cardboard make handy, free, home “drop-sheets.” Now you’re done.

Shovelling tip: My roof is not designed to handle much snow, so I shovel it a lot, with a regular, plastic snow-scoop. I tip the handle of the shovel slightly downward, so the edge of the shovel points up a little, instead of scraping the roof. This leaves a tiny amount of snow on the roof but the shovel slides easier and it doesn’t reduce the life of the shingles.

Thank Heaven it’s spring! I hope this will be helpful.

Ralph T. Kenney