Roof Snow Removal 101
Why should I remove the snow from my roof?
Ice dams- By keeping your roof clear of snow the threat of ice dams forming is greatly diminished. Ice dams can’t form without snow. Ice dams can cause the roof to leak causing costly water damage inside your home.
Excess weight – Snow buildup on the roof adds thousands of pounds of extra weight to the roof. If ice dams are present they can add many thousands of more pounds on the roof.
The Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety has a good article on snow and ice on roofs, click HERE
When should I have the snow removed from my roof?
As a rule of thumb it is best to clear the roof once 6 inches has built up. Not only is it easier to clear, but if you hire it done it will be less expensive than if you wait until there are a few feet of snow.
How should the snow be removed—with a shovel or a rake?
There are times and situations where a roof rake is all you need to clear the snow from the roof, but if you allow the snow to get to deep then a shovel is going to be needed to clear the roof.
Roof-raking is generally best as an ongoing, winter-long task that you, the property owner, can perform as a way of keeping the snow off your roof.
If you live in a small one-story home, you can probably use a roof rake to reach most or your entire roof and keep it snow-free by routinely raking the snow off. If you live in a taller home, roof-raking is an excellent way to clear the overhangs. This can help relieve excess weight on the weakest part of your roof (the overhangs) as well as aid in ice dam prevention.
Of course, roof-raking has its limitations. Unless you live in a one-story home, it’s often hard
What’ the best way to use a Roof Rake?
When using a roof rake to clear the snow, always start at the bottom and work your way up. Clear small sections at a time; don’t try to pull large amounts of snow all at once. Be mindful of any overhead wires coming into the house so you do not touch them with the roof rake.
What if I need to get my roof shoveled?
Shoveling a roof is best left to companies that know what they are doing. You can easily injure yourself climbing onto a snow covered roof.
If you still want to shovel the roof yourself, make sure you use a plastic shovel and not a metal one. The plastic is less likely to damage the shingles.
If you decide to hire someone to clean your roof, make sure they have the proper insurance for being on a roof, a lawncare/snowplow company does not carry the correct type of insurance for roof work. Someone hired off craigslist more than likely won’t have any insurance at all. If someone you hired falls off your roof and does not have their own liability insurance- you will be the one paying for their injury.
How about a recap?
Let’s sum it all up with a few “do’s and don’ts” of roof snow removal:
Do get the snow removed either by shovel or by rake, so as to minimize your risk of a cave-in and/or ice dams.
Do try, as a rule of thumb, to get your roof raked after every 6 inches or so of snowfall, so that it never piles up too much. If your main goal is to prevent ice dams, you should clear your roof after about every 6’’ of snowfall. But if your main concern is a roof collapse, then raking your roof after every 12’’ or more of snowfall should be adequate.
Do rake your roof as routinely as possible.
Do be careful to avoid any overhead power lines when raking your roof.
Do make sure you clear the overhangs—preferably first—whenever you rake your roof.
Don’t try to shovel your roof snow yourself. If there’s simply too much snow or if the snow is too hardened or heavy for your roof rake to handle, hire a roof snow removal service instead.
Don’t use a shovel with a metal edge or shovel your entire roof more than a handful of times each winter, if you insist on shoveling your roof yourself (which I don’t suggest).
Don’t put any salt products on your roof—unless you want to run the risk of discolored shingles and dead plants or grass.
Don’t ever use a hammer or an axe to remove ice dams. Only allow a company that uses steam to remove any ice dams that may have formed.
We here at Roof Cleaner have been clearing the snow from roofs in West Michigan since 2009 and now we are able to correctly remove ice dams as well. We have partnered with a local company that only uses steam to safely remove ice dams from homes and businesses.