When snow blankets our neighborhoods, it’s a beautiful sight. Our homes tend to look especially beautiful when the rooftop is covered in a fresh, smooth blanket of pure white snow. However, despite the beautiful look, snow and roof snow removal can cause major headaches for homeowners.
This is especially the case if your home is old, or if you know your rooftop isn’t as strong as it should be. Snow may look beautiful from the street, but if a homeowner isn’t careful, it can cause serious, expensive damage on the inside. Heavy snow on rooftops can cause gutters to fall off a home, water leaks inside the home, and even roof collapses in extreme cases.
That’s why roof snow removal is an important part of winter home maintenance. Keeping your roof clear of large amounts of snow will give you peace of mind. It will also help you avoid major repair projects after snow storms dump inches and inches of snow upon your roof.
Why Snow Removal is Important
Roof snow removal is of the utmost importance because it’s a precaution against severe damage to your home. One of the biggest risks when it comes to rooftop snow are “ice dams.” Ice dams form when ridges of ice form along the bottom edge of a roof. These can often form impressive-looking icicles, but they’re more trouble than one might realize.
An ice dam prevents moisture and snow from properly draining off the rooftop surface. Ice and snow becomes stuck on the roof and doesn’t drain off, which can result in damage and leaks inside the home.
Another consideration when evaluating whether you need to remove snow is the fact that consistently applied, additional weight upon an already weak roof puts the home at risk for a cave-in.
When Should You Remove Snow?
Many homeowners may wonder when they should start thinking about roof snow removal – right after a major storm, or after a few inches have accumulated? The answer really depends on a few factors that should be carefully considered:
- Consider the condition of your roof already. If you know that it is weak in certain areas and needs to be replaced, then make clearing it off a greater priority.
- Consider how much snow is actually on your roof. If it’s a dusting or just a few inches, obviously there is very little to be concerned about. Many experts recommend clearing a rooftop once the snow builds up to six inches in height. Any more snow can put undue stress on a rooftop and cause big problems.
- Think about the type of snow that’s on your roof. A homeowner may not realize that certain types of snow are heavier than others. Light and dry snow will not be as detrimental. However, wet snow is by nature heavier and will cause more problems. It’s easy to tell what type of snow you’re dealing with just by picking up a handful from the ground.
- Take the weather into account. If the weather is going to warm up very soon, clearing your roof is not as pressing a problem. The snow will probably begin to melt soon, easing your problems. However, if you have reason to anticipate more storms, its best to clear it off to prevent further build up.
Most of the time, homeowners will be able to clear snow off their roofs on their own. But for the sake of safety, it is key to make sure you are physically capable of doing so. And, you may want to consider professional assistance if you live in an area that frequently receive excessive amounts of snow each winter. Do this for the sake of your own safety and for the well-being of your roof.
It’s essential to consider other safety precautions as well. Homeowners need to be extremely careful using a ladder in potentially slippery conditions. In fact, you may want to avoid this option entirely unless you’re sure it can be done safely. Ladder surfaces, the ground, and your shoes can become slippery which is a recipe for disaster.
Several Approaches to Roof Snow Removal
There are several ways to approach roof snow removal. Regardless of the method you use, you’ll want to also take care to remove snow and ice from gutters in order to keep them from forming ice dams. This will also keep them from becoming too heavy and falling off the house.
A first option are heat cables. These are hot, electrically heated cables that are placed on the roof. The placement of these helps to prevent ice and snow build up. This is an expensive option that really only works in areas that receive ice or snow dustings. The heat from the cables is usually not enough to prevent major snow build up. This is especially true in areas that receive a lot of snow storms consistently throughout the winter.
Another option is a snow rake. This is an easy procedure that you can do yourself. However, this process can be difficult if your roof is steep, high, or has many overhangs. A roof rake is not a typical lawn rake–rather, it is typically metal and is shaped in such a way that pulls snow directly off your roof rather than through plastic teeth like a lawn rake would have. You’ll only be able to use this option if your roof doesn’t have a steep incline.
Snow guards are another option that make roof snow removal possible. These guards protect your gutters and spouting by spreading out the snow evenly on your roof. This makes it easier to remove snow and ice from your roof. The spread out snow melts and drips away evenly, reducing the number of potential leaks and cave ins.
An interesting option to consider is also calcium chloride tablets. These can be purchased online or at most hardware stores, and they are probably the least physically-straining option. Calcium chloride can melt snow and ice without damaging your rooftop (as driveway salt would); and all you have to do is, following the manufacturer’s directions of course, toss a few up on your rooftop and wait for them to melt the ice and snow on the roof. You’ll probably still have to clear a bit off around the gutters, but these tablets can take a lot of the struggle out of the process.
Roof snow removal can be a major challenge facing homeowners in the winter. Luckily, there are several ways to approach the problem, from heating cables, to roof rakes, to calcium chloride tablets. Taking into consideration the type and amount of snow and the condition of your roof will enable you to make an educated decision about clearing your roof of snow during the winter months.