Dec 20 2016

How to Safely Remove Snow from Your Roof

You should keep your roof as snow-free as possible to prevent ice dams from forming. Ice dams can lead to a leaking roof, and subsequent call to a roof repair company. Snow also weighs a lot. Generally, one square foot of snow that’s one inch deep weighs about a pound. A roof with 12 inches of snow on it could easily amount to thousands of pounds of stress on your roof. If you take ice into account, it gets even heavier. One cubic foot of ice weighs 57 pounds, and a typical ice dam can weigh thousands of pounds. All that strain on your roof can increase the risk of leaking or cave-ins.

When should you do it?

It’s a good idea to clear your roof after every 6 inches of snowfall, but this can vary depending on how heavy the snow is. Wet, heavy snow can weigh 6 or more times as much as lighter, dryer snow. If the snow seems heavy and wet when you pick it up, you may want to get your roof cleared sooner rather than later.

How should you do it?

Sometimes you need your roof snow removed by shoveling, other times by roof-raking. It depends on a number of factors, such as:

Roof-raking is generally best as an ongoing, winter-long task that you can perform as a way of keeping the snow off your roof. In a one-storey home, you can probably use a roof rake to reach most or all of your roof and keep it snow-free. In taller homes, roof-raking is an excellent way to clear the overhangs, which are the weakest part of the roof. It does have its limitations, however. It’s hard to rake any higher than the overhangs in a two-storey home. It’s also harder to clear the snow out of the roof’s valleys, and roof-raking isn’t particularly effective when it comes to wet, heavy, or hardened snow.

Shoveling picks up where roof-raking leaves off. You should probably shovel your roof:

Raking

It’s important to have the right roof rake. Ideally, it should have small rollers or bumpers on the bottom of the blade that keep it from coming into direct contact with the surface of your roof and scraping the shingles. If you can’t find one with rollers or bumpers, try to get one with a plastic blade, rather than a metal one. Make sure the rake has a slight curve in the handle near the head of the rake; this lets you get a better angle so the rake can cut deeper into the snow. It’s also a good idea to buy extra extension poles with your rake so you can rake as high up as possible on your roof.

The first thing you need to do is to clear the snow off your overhangs. These are the weakest areas of your roof and are the most prone to ice dam formation. From there, work your way up the roof, pulling off a foot or so of snow at a time. Don’t try to pull off too much snow at once. This can cause the excess snow you miss to build up and can slow your progress. While you rake your roof, watch out for overhead power lines. Remember that you’re essentially waving a giant metal pole in the air, and metal poles and power lines don’t mix.

Shoveling

It’s generally not a good idea to attempt to shovel your roof yourself. However, if you’re absolutely determined, this is how to do it safely and effectively. First of all, get a shovel with a plastic edge, not a metal one. A plastic edge is less likely to damage your shingles when it scrapes across them. Even so, every time you run a shovel across your roof, you will wear down your shingles a little bit, so try not to do it too often.

While you are on your roof, don’t leave pathways in the snow. Every time you step on snow, you pack it onto your roof. Left alone, these footprint pathways can become ice, and can often form ice dams.

Also, be careful not to dump the snow onto your gas meter. Your gas meter has a little breather hole that, if covered up, will cause your gas to shut off and subsequently shut off the furnace that heats your home.

If you decide to hire a snow-removal service, they generally charge anywhere from $95 to $175 per hour for shoveling. If you have ice dams and need them professionally removed (don’t try to do this yourself!), those services will typically apply their ice dam removal rates to snow removal as well, since ice dams are usually covered in a thick blanket of snow.

If you have any questions about snow removal from your roof or roofing in general please don't hesitate to call us at (905) 387-3000 or contact us using the contact form on our website. We'd love to hear from you!