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How to Safely Remove Snow from the Roof

By Luke Armstrong

Chances are your roof will probably not cave in from snow, but it is heavy and can cause significant water damage given the right conditions. It can also slide off if the roof is sloped and cause serious injuries to anyone standing in the wrong place at the wrong time.

So to avoid the risk of injury and any roof leak, here’s how to safely remove from the roof (without hiring a professional).

How to Safely Remove Snow from the RoofMan-removes-snow-from-roof-with-roof-rake

Remember, removing snow from your roof yourself is only recommended if you have a one-story home. If the job involves getting on top of the roof, always hire a professional.

To remove the snow yourself, you will need a long-handled snow rake which will cost about $45 from a hardware store. Make sure to look for ones with built-in rollers and sturdy telescoping handles. These will keep the blades above the roof shingles and prevent the risk for leaks.

You should also be able to remove the snow by going under it. It’s similar to sliding a shovel underneath and letting the snow slide down and onto the ground. They are more expensive, around $100, but they work best when it comes to removing light, fluffy snow.

Here are a few extra tips for removing the snow from the roof yourself:

  1. The goal isn’t to remove all visible snow and ice, but just enough to remove the excessive load and prevent any possible water damage or injury.
  2. Before you start shoveling, project where the snow will fall off so it won’t land on you or anyone else.

Get the Snow Off with Professional Help

If you have multiple floors in your home (the roof cannot be reached with any tools), always hire a professional.

Experts say that people die each year just by climbing ladders. This didn’t even involve getting on top of the roof and shoveling snow.

But before hiring a contractor, make sure that they are licensed and insured; this is extremely important should any accidents occur. You should also expect to be paying around $250 – $500 for a good job. The reason for this is because it involves using sturdy extension ladders, specialty snow and ice removal tools, and properly anchored safety harnesses.

While the cost is expensive, you should not expect all of the snow to be removed from the roof; their job is to remove the excessive amounts to get rid of the weight. Otherwise, attempts to remove the bottom layer of ice can result in permanent damage to the roofing.

Your Doors Will Let You Know if There’s Too Much Snow

One might not think it, but your interior doors are the best way to tell if you have too much snow on the roof. If they stick, it means there’s too much weight on the center structure of the home to bend the doorframe.

Make sure to check the interior doors that lead to the bedrooms, closets, and attics on the second-story of your home. You should also examine the drywall around the door frames for visible cracks .

Beware that the homes at the highest risk to roof cave-ins are those that have undergone poor repairs and renovations.

Determining the Weight of the Snow

The weight of the snow – not how much – on your roof should be the determining factor of whether you should take action to remove it.

Keep in mind that wet snow is a lot heavier than light, fluffy snow. Not so fun fact: just six inches of wet snow is equal to the weight of 38 inches of dry snow!

Thankfully, your roof is required  by building codes to withstand the heaviest weight from snow in your part of the country.

So what’s the best way to tell if you have wet or dry snow? Just lift a few shovels worth of snow and you should be able to tell right away.

Water Damage from Wet Snow

Be sure to call a water damage cleanup contractor right away to prevent the problem from spreading.

If you have noticed significant water damage to your roof, walls, and ceilings from wet snow on your roof, make sure to call a water damage restoration specialist. While most are not considered an emergency in this situation, it’s important to address the problem quickly.

If the walls are wet and are left to sit, mold growth can develop, making the problem dangerous as well. To prevent matters from becoming worse, be sure to call a water damage restoration contractor as soon as possible to remove excess water and moisture from the building materials.

Many contractors are also able to remediate any and all mold growth in the affected area, containing it to the affected area and removing it at the source.