You’re sitting inside, curled up under blankets next to a crackling fire safe from the bitter cold and blizzard of snow. But how protected are you? Accumulating snow can set a pretty scene, but can wreak havoc on your roof.
As a homeowner, it’s important to understand how much snow your roof can handle, the signs of pending damage, and how to safely remove snow from your roof. Here are a few of the best tips to keeping you and your home safe this winter.
How much snow is too much?
The load-bearing capacity of your roof has many factors including style, maintenance, material, and gutter performance. If your roof has recently been replaced, it should comply with local building standards, able to withhold the load of a common snowfall in your region.
Still, it’s wise to keep an eye on your roof during and days after a heavy snowfall to check for signs of stress. Dry, fluffy snow (even 7+ inches high) isn’t too much cause for concern because it is lightweight, blows away easily, and melts quickly.
As snow becomes wet and compacted by subsequent sunless days of rain it becomes 6 times heavier than the freshly fallen stuff. Pay attention to the quality of the snow on the ground and on your roof. If it crunches under your feet and there are more than 4 inches on your roof, it’s time to take action.
Pay attention to your interior doors. If these doors suddenly begin to stick or are difficult to open, that may be a sign that weight on the roof is distorting the frames. Check for cracks in drywall and plaster around the doors as well.
How to safely remove snow from your roof
Your doors are sticking, there’s no sunshine, and you’re expecting another snowfall. Here are a few tips for removing snow:
Don’t get on the roof
If you don’t have proper training or equipment, it’s not safe to mount a roof covered in snow and ice. If you have an especially tall roof and you feel comfortable using a ladder to get a better reach with tools, go for it. Just make sure the ladder is planted on solid ground, not a sheet of ice or slippery snow.
Use the right tool
If you have a traditional shingle roof like many homeowners, you definitely shouldn’t use metal tools. Metal shovels and rakes can damage your shingles, making way for leaks and ice dams during the next snowfall. Stick with plastic.
Roof rakes are the most popular option because they often allow homeowners to clear snow from the safety of the ground with extendable handles. Some traditional roof rakes (around $50) take a little more muscle than some homeowners are ready to muster. But there are some newer snow removal systems like the Avalanche that cost twice as much ($135-$160) but make the job much easier.
Here’s a short clip of the Avalanche in action.
Start from the bottom
Regardless of the tool you’re using, always start from the bottom of your roof near the gutters. As tempting as it may be to pull from the highest spot you can reach, it’s dangerous. Packed snow is heavy and being underneath it when a large mass falls can lead to injury to you, children, pets, and surrounding structures. We advise working in two-foot sections, from gutters to ridge.
Look out below
Even if you are working in small sections ensure you, children and pets are at a safe distance from your work. Because wet snow is packed together, it can quickly collapse and slide in a large sheet. Using a tool with an extendable handle allows you stay far enough away to anticipate and react to falling snow.
Call a professional
We’re all for empowering homeowners to take care of their roofs year-round. But if snow removal seems like a daunting or dangerous task, you’re not quite ready for, don’t hesitate to call a professional. We’ve got all the tools, training, and toughness you need.