Get roof snow removal done safely — and stop snow build-up in the first place!
Roof snow removal can be a cold and hazardous job. Getting up a ladder in icy, slippery conditions is not much fun, will probably add extra weight to your already snow-laden roof and could end in an accident.
Even if you have a steeply-pitched roof, snow won’t always slide off if the gutters are blocked with ice. Heavy snow can cause stress on load-bearing walls and could even cause your roof to collapse. It’s particularly worrying if you have a flat roof.
In this article, we’ll look at the best way to tackle roof snow removal with our step-by-step guide. We’ll also show you the best ways to avoid a build-up of snow on your roof in the first place.
How much snow is too much on your roof?
It helps if you can figure out how much snow is too much. This depends on the type of snow. Dry snow is relatively light at about 5 pounds per square foot. Wet snow, on the other hand, weighs about 20 pounds per square foot.
Most modern buildings have roofs designed to cope with up to 40 pounds per square foot. But if you have an older house or a flat roof, you may not have that assurance. We’ve got an easy calculation for you below, so you can quickly figure out if you need to take action.
To find out how much roof snow you have per square foot:
- Measure how many inches of snow you have on the roof
- Use the estimate: 1 inch of snow = 1.25 pounds of weight
- Multiply the number of inches by 1.25 to get the pounds per square foot
You have 6 inches of snow on your roof. 6 x 1.25 = 7.5 pounds of snow per square foot.
As we said above, a modern roof should be able to take a 20-pound snow load per square foot easily. If you do the calculation and decide that there is definitely too much snow on your roof, follow our guide below for the safest way to remove it.
Signs that you Have too much Snow on your Roof
Look out for warning signs that your roof might be struggling with the weight of snow and ice.
- Creaking, cracking or popping noises
- New cracks in walls
- Interior doors in the center of the house that won’t open or close
- Sagging ceiling materials
- Heavy leaks
If you are worried about the structure of your roof and the effect of heavy snow loads, talk to a specialist before another winter arrives. See what can be done to make improvements.
5 Steps to Safe Roof Snow Removal
- Use the right tool
You can remove snow from a pitched roof with a rake. Make sure you have the right type of rake, though. A long-handled snow rake is specifically designed for the job of roof snow removal. These rakes are lightweight, which helps as you’ll be lifting it above your head a lot. They usually have a telescopic handle that extends to 20 feet or so.
- Stay on the ground
Avoid using a ladder. The rungs will get slippery. You might add even more weight to your (potentially sagging) roof by getting up there and leaning on it. If you have a long-handled snow rake, you can stay standing on the ground.
- Check what’s around you
Before you start, take note of any power lines or tree branches, which you won’t want to get tangled up in with your rake. Don’t stand right below the snow when you poke it with the rake as you might get covered when it suddenly shifts.
- Start at the edge
Take small amounts from the roof edges, working your way inwards. Don’t try to get all the snow off. You might damage your roof tiles if you are too enthusiastic. Leaving a couple of inches of snow on there is fine, it’s the weight you want to deal with.
- Know when to get help
If you think you have too much snow to deal with from the ground and you’re worried about the roof collapsing, get a professional snow removal service in. It’s not as expensive as you might think. It could save you a much bigger bill if the structure of your house is under threat from the snow load. Don’t get up on the roof – you could damage your building and yourself!
What about using ropes for roof snow removal?
This is risky because you need to get on the roof to fix the rope in place, and this adds extra weight. If you have a seriously heavy load of snow to move and you’re not sure how much weight your roof will take, this isn’t a good idea.
Roof Snow Removal – Solar Panels
You will want to carefully clear snow from your solar panels so they can work effectively. The advice above applies – use a long-handled rake from the ground and be careful not to damage the solar panels as you sweep the snow off.
How to Avoid the Job of Roof Snow Removal
There are ways you can prevent snow from building up on your roof. This will mean you don’t need to worry about roof snow removal every winter. One of the main problems you might need to tackle is ice and ice dams.
What is an Ice Dam?
An ice dam is basically a build-up of ice that stops snow from sliding off your roof. Ice dams can form when snow on your roof partially melts, runs down the roof and then freezes in the gutters. Ice is very heavy, so as well as causing a blockage, it will add loads of extra weight to an already laden roof.
How to Keep your Roof Clear of Snow and Ice
You can stop ice from building up by investing in heating cables for your roof. These are insulated electric-powered cables that can be run across the roof, in the eaves and along gutters.
They are relatively inexpensive, but you’ll need to keep an eye on the energy cost and only have them switched on when they are really needed.