How to Safely Remove Snow from the Roof


Waking up to a fresh snowfall is a nostalgic experience. While building a snowman, sipping hot cocoa, and clearing the walkways are all enjoyable ways to spend a snowy day, it’s important to remember to remove snow from the roof. Snow and ice on your roof may lead to a wide range of issues, such as leaks or roof collapse, so it’s essential to take precautions.

Clogged gutters and ice dams can keep snow from sliding off, even if your home’s roof has a good pitch. Heavy snow loads can cause shingle damage and stress the load-bearing walls. Such issues may necessitate costly roof repairs.

Learning the best methods for removing accumulated snow and ice from your roof is essential if you want to keep it in good shape for many years. Snow removal is a slippery undertaking. You can contact experienced roofing contractors to handle the job safely for you.

If you prefer to do the job yourself, here are some valuable tips for safely removing snow from your roof.

When Should You Remove Snow from the Roof?

Most people believe that snow should never be allowed to collect on a roof and that you should clear it off as soon as possible. But this approach has a risk of injury and roof damage. Therefore, you should clear snow from the roof only when necessary.

Before removing snow from the roof, the main factors to consider are how much snow you can expect and how much your roof can hold.

Consider Expected Snowfall

Based on the annual snowfall in the region, different roofs are built with varying weight capacities. Remember that wet snow can weigh up to six times as much as dry fluffy snow, so once the accumulation exceeds three feet for fluffy snow or two feet for wet snow, it needs to be removed.

Don’t put off clearing the snow off your roof until the next storm hits if you live in a region that gets a lot of snow. If temperatures are expected to rise, snow on your roof may melt enough to create a dam of frozen water if the weather does warm up.

Consider the Roof’s Pitch

When clearing snow, it would be best to consider the roof’s design and pitch. Snow causes more damage on a flat or shallowly pitched roof than on a regular or steeply pitched roof. Steep roofs quickly shed off snow using gravity.

However, low-pitched and flat roofs find it challenging to melt snow independently. While the snow may eventually melt, the water will remain on the roof. In colder weather, it can become ice, which adds even more weight to the rain and snow already pressing down on your roof.

If snow is piling up so high on your roof that it is causing it to bow, you may be able to tell by how difficult it is to open the windows and doors on the floor directly beneath it.

How to Remove Snow from the Roof

You will need a few tools to remove snow from the roof safely. These include:

  • Roof rake or snow rake
  • Extension poles
  • Snow blower (optional)
  • Roofmelt pellets (optional)

The first step when removing snow and ice from your roof is creating a path around your house. Use a snow blower to make a path around your home to make moving around easy and safe. While this step isn’t a must, it offers added safety and accessibility.

You should assemble the roof rake and place it at the roof’s edge. After putting it in position, pull it down to remove snow from the roof.

Ensure to leave about an inch of snow on the roof to avoid damage to your roof covering.

Don’t use heat guns or flame devices if you find ice buildup on the roof. This could lead to severe damage to your roof. Instead, consider using Roofmelt pellets. These tablets contain calcium chloride, so they won’t damage your roof while they melt the ice.

heavy snow and ice can damage your roof

Removing Ice and Snow from Gutters

The weight of snow and ice might cause your gutters to slump. If this happens, clearing away the snow and ice is necessary to avoid any further problems.

Clearing your gutters of leaves and twigs in the fall will allow melting snow and ice to flow more freely. Doing so will reduce the likelihood that your gutters will become clogged and damaged.

Gutters are vital in maintaining the integrity of your roof and reducing the effect of water damage on your walls. By sprinkling rock salt in the affected area, you can prevent further damage to your gutters by snow and ice. Rock salt will gradually melt the ice and snow, facilitating water flow.

Spray the snow or ice with warm water for a quicker fix. Using warm water ensures that the gutter won’t suffer from thermal shock or have to deal with an overwhelming amount of water all at once when the snow finally melts.

Safety Considerations During Snow Removal

Snow removal, especially from a roof, presents various risks. It’s vital to remember that you should never go on a roof blanketed with snow. Such roofs are slippery and dangerous. Avoid using a ladder when the weather is cold and snowy. If it freezes, the ladder’s rungs will be slippery, increasing the chance of falling and sustaining injuries.

Other risks associated with snow removal include hypothermia and frostbite. Before removing snow, dress warmly in multiple layers and protect your extremities. It is best to take many breaks inside.

Also, watch out for any electricity lines that might be overhead. The poles used to extend a roof rake are typically metal. You could get electrocuted if you tried to walk around electricity lines with a 30-foot metal pole. Take extra caution around them and consider investing in a non-metallic extension pole.

Clearing snow is not a very complex task, but it is hard work. If you are not in good physical shape or have a history of heart problems, you should not undertake snow removal. Removing snow off a roof has many risks, but you can do it safely with the correct equipment and care.

When to Call Professionals in Greenville, SC

Call a professional roofing contractor near you if you can’t safely remove snow from your roof. You should never use a ladder or climb on a roof in the snow. Commercial snow removal companies take the proper precautions for safety and to avoid roof damage. The pitch of your roof’s pitch and the quantity of snowfall determine the total cost of snow removal services.

If you notice any leaks or structural problems, call us at (864) 990-4836 to schedule an inspection and get a free estimate for the project.

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