Most homeowners do not really think about roof snow removal until they have a problem. Each winter residential roofers get frantic calls from homeowners because of serious roof damage that could have been prevented.
Roof snow removal can be a simple but very important activity when it comes to keeping your roof safe in the winter. If you have never heard about roof snow removal continue reading to learn about why roof snow removal should be on your radar.
What is Your Load?
How much weight can your roof hold? Its okay if you don’t know, most people have no idea what their roof load is. The amount of weight that your roof can hole will vary by design, material, and age. The point is that snow can easily exceed the weight that your roof is able to hold.
Snow can pile up and become very heavy. Of course, the melting process can also add some weight to your roof that it is just not meant to bear. When the snow melts during the day then refreezes at night you can get heavy ice build-up that can overburden your roof.
The fluffy stuff can weigh about 7 pounds per cubic foot as long as it is light fluffy snow. With wet damp snow, the weight can go up substantially. Wet snow can weigh as much as 20 pounds per cubic foot.
Some simple math can reveal that snow on your roof can pile up to tons of weight. Roof snow removal can help to keep the stress on your roof down.
The type of roof you have plays a major role in whether your roof is at risk from snow weight. A flat roof is at a higher risk than say a pitched shingled roof. While shingle roofing is less likely to succumb to a cave in, it does not mean that it can not happen. A pitched metal roof is safer than a pitched shingle roof. You get the idea, every roof can be at risk, the level of risk varies.
Most local roofing services have stories to tell about roof cave in’s for a wide range of different roofing types. Roof snow removal is the one thing every roofer advises in those snowy regions because they have seen what happens when you do not remove snow from your roof.
Flatt roofs are more at risk because the snow can accumulate over long periods with nowhere to go. Pitched roofs, of course, are at an angle so the snow can slide off of them, however, that does not mean that peaked rooves are not at risk. It may take longer for a peaked roof to show the signs of a problem.
Of course, with a pitched roof there is always the danger of a snow slide that can land on vehicles or people. Roof snow removal can significantly reduce the risk of property damage or injury from a snow slide.
Early Signs You Are In Trouble
About one out of five homeowners report that they put off major repairs, hopefully, you are not the one in five when it comes to your roof. If you failed on the roof snow removal, and you wind up with a leaking roof, call for some expert helps as soon as possible.
One of the earliest signs that the integrity of your roof has been compromised is a leak. Addressing the problem as soon as possible with a trusted roofing company will ensure that your roof never gets to the point of collapse. Typically, a healthy well-maintained roof is a safer roof.
A critical error is not getting the local roofing services you need onboard fast enough to offset the potential tremendous damage that a failing roof can cause. Having an expert come in and address the problems is the easiest way to minimize damage and reduce the risk of a complete and total failure.
Other things you should look for if you did not have roof snow removal that may indicate a problem include:
- Roof debris in the yard. If you start losing shingles and other roofing parts, your roof is in trouble, act quickly to get repairs done.
- Gutters are bowing or pulling away from the house. Your roof system is a finely tuned design, if one part is showing signs of stress, every part is under stress. Call in the roofers.
- Your roof is making noises. If your roof sounds like it is becoming squeaky or a little rumbly, call for professional help immediately. Your roof should not make any noise at all.
The sooner you get help the less expensive it will be if you are experiencing any of the above roofing problems. Roofing experts will know how to handle the problem and can provide services like roof leak detection to trace the problem area when you have a leak. Water flows to the place there is the least resistance that means you may have a leak in one spot but the actual problem is in another. A roofing expert knows how to diagnose all of your roofing problems.
Addressing roofing problems early on is the easiest way to save on costs, and reduce risks of damage to other systems in your home. It is important that roofing problems are not put off.
Not Worried About Collapse? What About Ice Dams?
Whether you have a 15-year-old roof or a two-year-old roof, ice dams are your roof’s enemy. Ice dams cannot form unless you have had snow on your roof or there was an ice build up on your roof. Ice dams can easily weigh about 70 pounds per cubic foot, and they can cause water to pool on your roof (even on pitched roofs) and prematurely age your roofing materials. Of course, ice dams are also notorious for causing roof leaks.
Roof snow removal is a preventive measure against ice dams forming. It is a step in the right direction to avoid water damage roof repair. You will be glad you did the roof snow removal in the winter.
How Do You Remove Snow From a Roof Safely?
Now you are convinced that roof snow removal is a simple preventive measure that will help to protect your investment, the next question of course is, how do you safely carry out roof snow removal. There are two ways you can manage roof snow removal, one is a much safer option.
If you have any reservations about managing this project on your own, then call an expert. Roofers can easily manage roof snow removal for you. Of course, the down side is if you live in an area where it snows a lot and does it often, then you will have to pay every time to have professional roof snow removal. It can get expensive.
If you decide that you want to provide this maintenance for your home as a DIY project, you will need some tools to get the job done. A roof rake can be a great tool to have on hand to clear away the snow. It can also be used to clear other debris off your roof like leaves and other tree litter.
The first thing you want to do is to make sure that you purchase a rake that is going to be long enough to reach your roof. The next thing you will want to do is to take some safety precautions and learn how to use the rake. Practice with the rake before you swing it up on the roof.
Here is some other equipment you should have on hand:
- A sturdy ladder. It is also a good idea if you have someone around that can steady the ladder for you.
- Personal protection. Goggles, gloves, nonslip boots will all come in handy.
- A shovel. You will need a shovel in case the snow is too heavy to dislodge with the rake.
Depending on the height of your roof you may be able to find success with the rake alone. If your roof is too high for the rake then you may have to get up on the roof to use the rake. This can be very dangerous. The roof will be slippery. You want to be sure that you take every precaution to keep yourself safe.
It is strongly recommended that any time you are doing any type of roof work that you have a partner with you. They do not need to get up on the roof with you, but you should have someone nearby just in case something happens or you need an extra pair of hands to complete the task.
Rakes work great on pitched roofs but not so great on flat roofs. You will typically need to climb up on a flat roof and shovel the snow off. Read on to learn more about the proper shoveling techniques to ensure you do not damage your roof.
How To Shovel a Flat Roof
The right tool really matters if you plan on shoveling your roof. You have to be very careful of roof seams and you never want to use a shovel that is very sharp on the edge. A pusher or a push broom can be a better option for a flat roof. Instead of shoveling the snow off, you can safely push the snow off the side of the roof.
If shoveling is the only option because the snow is too wet and heavy to push, do this:
- Use a flat snow shovel. Choose a flat snow shovel with the widest shovel you can find to make lightweight of the work.
- Remove small amounts of snow at a time. You do not really want to dig in with the shovel. You want to move things along in small increments to ensure you do not catch one of the seams or damage the roofing material.
- It’s okay to leave behind a thin layer of snow. It is better to leave a little layer of snow than to try to scrape all the way down and risk damaging the roof.
Before you bust out the shovel, because it is really risky, try using a leaf blower. A leaf blower is powerful enough to move light fluffy snow. It can save you some work and will greatly reduce the risk of you causing damage with the shovel.
Never Ever Do This
You would not be the first homeowner looking for a better way to manage roof snow removal. Everyone wants it to be easier and less of a hassle, but unfortunately, there are no short cuts. Never throw salt or ice melt on your roof. Roofing materials are not tolerant of chemicals, they are not designed to withstand the damage from salt or ice-melting chemicals.
Some homeowners use heat cables to prevent ice damning, it can work, but it is also risky business unless you have a professional install the heat cables. Unfortunately, roof snow removal is a fact of life that there is no easy answer to, sometimes you just have to put the hard work in. Of course, you can always call in a roofing company to manage the problem for you.
Every Six Inches Is the Answer
After reading through all this there are plenty of homeowners that are shaking their head and wondering exactly how often roof snow removal has to be done. The answer is about every six inches. Anytime you get six inches of snow and you have to pull out the snowblower to clear the driveway, grab your roof rake and clear the roof.
Roof snow removal is just another fact of life for a homeowner that wants to take preventive measures to save money, save time, and save the stress of having to deal with bigger problems that can come along when it is not done.
After a few seasons of roof snow removal it will become second nature to ensure that your roof is safe from the damages of winter snow. Taking the steps that are necessary to preserve your roof, protect your home, and extend the life of your roof is the smarter way to care for your home.