As winter approaches, we have to prepare ourselves and our homes for freezing temperatures and lots of snow. While snow is gorgeous and picturesque for the holidays, it’s a little less pleasant when it comes to your roof.
With each snowfall adding unwanted weight to your home, what should you do about it? Read on to find out if you need to remove snow from your roof and how to do it safely!
Are Snowy Roofs Bad?
Climbing up onto your roof to shovel snow off is an incredibly dangerous endeavor, especially if you don’t have a flat roof. In residential areas, building codes and regulations have already accounted for the weight of snow. Most homes with sloped roofs are built to carry around 20lbs of snow per square foot.
It means weight shouldn’t be a huge concern unless the snow on your roof hasn’t slid off, no matter how thick it’s gotten. Besides the extra load, you should also be concerned about creating an ice dam that forms from mixing heat loss, melting snow, and freezing temperatures.
Beware of Ice Dams
In winter, we stay warm by turning the heat up indoors. Without proper insulation, heat can leak outside and create a mess of temperature spots on your roofing tiles. Typically, heat loss gives you a warm central roof area with portions that stay freezing (below 32ºF) around your roof’s edges.
The escaping warmth melts the snow on your house and freezes it again into ice around the perimeter of your roof. As this process repeats, it forms an ice dam. Snow can continue melting even after an ice dam stops growing. This water gets blocked by the dam and creeps under your roofing tiles. It’ll trickle down your attic and through your wall, causing water and structural damage.
Warning Signs You Need to Clear Snow off Your Roof
To keep your homes secure in the winter and to avoid costly repair works, here are some signs for when you need to remove snow from roofs.
1. Your snow layer is thick
How thick is too thick when talking about rooftop snow? Generally, fluffy snow is cleared when it’s four feet thick, while dense snow should be cleared at a two-foot thickness.
2. Your doors and windows start sticking
Excess roof weight can show in limited door and window mobility. If you notice more friction when opening them, your house might be carrying excess snow.
3. Your house is creaking
Do you hear strange and unusual noises? Creeks and groans around your house might be a sign that your roof is carrying too much weight from snow. When this happens, calculate your snow load and check if it’s time to remove the snow.
4. You notice icicles around your roof edges
Icicles, like ice dams, are formed from the same snow melting and freezing process. If you let this go on unchecked, an ice dam might start taking shape.
5. You notice damage indoors
Cracks in the drywall or fresh wet patches in your ceiling could be from moisture from the melting snow on your roof. Oftentimes, this is a sign of a serious problem weight or ice dam problem.
What You Can do About Snow on Your Roof
Snow and ice dam removal can be tricky, especially if you don’t know where to start. To help, here are some things you can do.
1. Use a roof rake
Keeping in mind safety first, a roof snow rake is one of the safest and most efficient ways to remove fresh snow load from your roof. From our experience, the best roof rake is the Avalanche! Traditional Snow Roof Rake. If you’re doubtful, you can look through Avalanche Roof Rake reviews, such as in the video below!
2. Remove snow immediately
Using a shovel or a rake, make it a habit to clear your roof immediately after every snowfall or as soon as it becomes too thick. It helps you deal with soft and easily maneuverable fresh snow, making it less of a risk.
3. Improve attic insulation
Prevent ice dams by ensuring that no heat escapes your home. Reinforce and update your insulation with extra padding on the attic floors and walls. Here’s an insightful video on How to Maximize the Impact of Insulation | Ask This Old House.
4. Hire professional contractors
If an ice dam has already formed due to heavy snow and it’s too dangerous to handle it yourself, hire a professional to prevent roof collapse. It is the safest method to take, especially when dealing with serious snow issues and extremely tall heights.
Some people also go up their roofs to use rope and wire for snow removal. Although it’s common, this is extremely dangerous. We advise against climbing on top of snowy roofs as much as possible, especially if you’re unfamiliar with its landscape or already suspect a slippery ice problem on it.
Even with houses built to withstand heavy snow loads, we still need to clear our roofs. Luckily, removing heavy and thick snow from your roof should be easy with the help of the Avalanche! Traditional Snow Roof Rake.
You can also avoid any ice dam issues as long as your home, especially in your attic, is well-insulated and traps in all your heat. Just watch out for the different signs of stress that your house can show if the snow on your roof is too much and, every time you deal with it, do it from the ground!