Winter storm heading your way? While newly fallen snow can make for a great photo opp, the weight of a new snowfall can be stressful on your roof and home. Not only can it damage shingles and the roof structure, but it can also lead to ice dams when it melts and then refreezes.
How do you know if you should remove snow from your roof? Is snow removal necessary to protect your roof system? Let’s take a look at when you should remove snow from your roof and tips on how to do so safely.
When to Remove Snow from Your Roof
Different types of roofs handle snow in different ways. Depending on the style of roof on your home, here are key indicators of when it’s time to remove snow to help prevent damage to your home.
In general, sloped roofs that are built to code can withstand the weight of a snowfall. Snow weighs approximately 20 pounds per cubic foot and roofs built to code can handle 20-35 pounds per square foot depending on local code requirements. If you have a newer home built to code, you can rest easy knowing it can tolerate snow during the harsh winter months.
The exception to this rule is for older homes. Older homes that are not built to modern-day building codes may get damaged – or worse, collapse – under the weight of a fresh snowfall. In this case, it’s best to remove snow when it’s accumulated 12 inches or more.
As you can imagine, flat roofs are more vulnerable to snow than sloped roofs. The low pitch on a flat roof allows snow and ice to accumulate almost indefinitely and can lead to damage or even a collapse. Flat roofs can hold several feet of snow which adds thousands of pounds to the roof.
If you own a home with a flat roof, don’t wait to remove snow. Try to keep the total accumulation on your rooftop below 12 inches.
For both sloped and flat roofs, there are several red flags to be aware of that are warning signs you should remove the snow as soon as safely possible. Warning signs your roof is overstressed during a winter snowfall include:
- Sagging ceiling tiles
- Ceiling boards falling out of the ceiling grid
- Odd noises coming from your attic or roof including popping, cracking, and creaking
- Bowing trusses
- Cracks in walls or masonry
- Ice dams
If you’ve noticed any of these issues after a snowfall, it’s an indication your roof may be at risk for damage and you should remove snow as soon as safely possible.
Tips for Roof Snow Removal
If you’ve determined it’s time to remove snow from your roof, here are some tips to do so safely and efficiently:
Don’t Attempt It Alone
Snow removal can be dangerous, so work with a partner. Your partner can help keep an eye out for hazards like falling snow and ice plus get help in case of an emergency.
Safety first! It’s not uncommon for a homeowner to experience adverse health effects like hypothermia, frostbite, and in some cases even overexertion from removing snow from their roof. Dress for the weather and be sure to wear a hat, gloves, warm jacket, and proper footwear when removing snow.
Clear a Path Around the House
While not necessary, creating a clear path around your home with a shovel or snowblower can make the process easier. A clear path allows you to move around safely and helps you access your roof easier.
Invest in a Roof Rake
Roof rakes are key to removing snow from your roof. A roof rake is a tool specifically designed to efficiently – and safely – remove snow. With a telescoping handle, you can stay on the ground while removing heavy snow. You can pick up a roof rake at your local hardware store for under $100.
Stay on the Ground
You may be tempted to climb onto your roof to shovel the snow but avoid that temptation! It’s best to remove the snow from the ground using a roof rake. If you need to get more access to the roof, use a ladder that is safely secure to your house AND make sure your partner is holding the ladder for you.
Work in Small Batches
Not sure where to start or what to do when removing snow from your roof? Start by working in a small area. Remove the snow closest to the gutters first then move upward with the snow rake. Don’t pile up large amounts of snow and then remove it all at once. This can cause stress on your roof.
Remember – snow removal is tough physical labor. Work in small batches and take breaks as needed.
Don’t Remove All of the Snow
Don’t worry too much about removing ALL of the snow from the roof. In fact, trying to remove it all can lead to damage to the shingles or roof covering. It’s okay to leave one or two inches of snow on your roof.
Your Roof Maintenance and Repair Team in Mechanicsburg and Central PA
Heavy snow and other extreme weather can take a toll on your roof. If you’ve noticed signs of damage to your rooftop this winter, it’s important to address them quickly to avoid further damage and complications.
At Roof Maxx Mechanicsburg, we offer free roof assessments to help homeowners understand the condition of their current roofing system and what they need – or don’t need – to extend the life of their roof. We can help with roof repairs, roof rejuvenation, or even roof replacement. Contact us today to schedule your roof assessment.