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Roof Snow Removal Is Not a Great DIY Job


When it comes to snow from your roof, we could all learn a lesson from Little Red Riding Hood. That beautiful, sun-glistened white blanket on your roof could be hiding the reality of festering leaks, collapsing roofs, torn gutters, and other problems that have far-reaching teeth if they get out of control.

Roofs are rated by “snow load,” and chances are good that your home had to pass the local town ordinance when it was built (unless it’s older than the start of building-code laws), making the need to remove snow from your roof unlikely. The snow-load determination uses normal local snow accumulations and determines the required slope on your roof to help prevent dangerous buildups, as well as the roof’s pounds-per-square-inch capacity.

However, if you’ve re-roofed without removing the old roofing material, you’ve increased the amount of weight on your roof exponentially. Roofs have weight limits, and snow gets heavy when it packs down. Sure, the slope is pretty much the same after just one re-roofing, so snow should still slide off, but melting snow ices and builds up over at night. In addition, snow melting from the top down due to the sun and warmer outdoor temperatures is one thing. Snow that melts from the bottom up, because your roof is not well-insulated and allows heat to escape, sets the stage for more ice and eventual leaks.

Melting snow can also cause ice dams on the roof, which are especially good at damaging shingles and causing roofs to sag. (In my research, one professional advices that you can tell if your roof needs snow removed if your inner doors become difficult to open and close because of the sagging roof. In my opinion, if that occurs, you have way bigger problems than snow buildup and need a construction company like yesterday.) Ice can also buildup in your gutters and break them loose (you did get them cleaned out last fall, right?
Most of us were taught to remove snow from our roof if it gets to 6 inches in-depth, but that’s purely a guide. If it’s heavy, wet, packed snow, you may need to get to work sooner than later due to the snow’s packed weight. You need a little savvy here.

The only way to safely remove snow from your roof is with a roof rake. A roof rake is a very long, awkward pole with a shovel-like blade on the end. If you plan to use one, buy it now before the snow comes because they sell out fast when snow accumulates.

Roof rakes are unwieldy (think cartoon characters trying to balance a tall upright beam), but you can probably do it, if you’re strong, have firm ground to stand on, and a single-story house. Still, you need to know it’s a risky job, and people have been killed doing it. Three safety notes: Do not climb up on your roof for any reason. Do not try to use a ladder and a roof rake. Do not pull the snow, which may contain murderous icicles, down on yourself.

If you have a multi-story home, chances are good that the slope of the higher roof is such that the snow should slide off easily. If it doesn’t, absolutely call a professional snow removal company. The cost is not that high compared to hurting yourself and being out of work while you heal. It’s not a bad idea, really, even if you just have a small ranch home.

Posted on January 25, 2022

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