How to Remove Snow from Your Roof

How to Remove Snow from Your Roof

Image credit: Hashi photo, Wikimedia

Many people live in areas that get a lot of snowfall each year (Washington, Minneapolis, etc.) but they don’t all remove the snow from their roofs. The snow that remains on your roof can act as a layer of insulation, helping to hold heat in and keep your electric bill down. However, there are times when you do need to take it off.

Watch for signs that the snow accumulating on your roof has become too heavy for it to bear. A few things to watch for are water spots on your ceilings, new cracks in your drywall, or your interior doors starting to stick when shutting when they didn’t before.

Know when snow removal is necessary

How much weight can your roof handle? Most roofs need to be cleared off once the snow reaches 40 pounds per square foot, but some can only handle 25 pounds per square foot. It all depends on the region in which you live. It’s best to check the building codes in your area.

There is a way to measure how much weight is on your roof at any given time. The formula is (S x 1.25) + (I x 5.2) = P.

S = how deep the snow is in inches

1.25 = approximately how many pounds the snow weighs per square foot at one inch deep

I = how many inches of ice build-up there is

5.2 = about how heavy a one-inch piece of ice weighs per square foot

P = total pounds per square foot

You can find more information on this at https://berletroofing.com/when-should-i-shovel-my-roof-to-remove-snow/.

Now that you have determined that you need to move the snow on your roof, what is the best way to do it? The most efficient and safest way to do this is to use a shovel or a roof rake.

snow removing on roof

Image credit: Maj. Mark Frank, Army Mil

Use the right tool – roof rake vs. shovel

  • Roof rakes are safer to use because they are used from the ground.
  • Shovels are more effective for heavy wet snow, but require you to go up on the roof.

Roof rakes are used while you’re standing on the ground. They cut the ice and snow into smaller, manageable chunks, for removing one at a time. Most have wheels on them. The wheels are crucial because they keep the rake from scraping your shingles and damaging them.

Sometimes, though, you’ll get heavy, wet snow that a roof rake isn’t strong enough to move effectively. In those instances, you’ll need to get a shovel and go up onto the roof to shovel it off. If this is the case, secure your ladder to the house so that it won’t fall with sliding snow, and use extreme caution. Move slowly, so you don’t slip and fall.

No matter what method you use, never remove the ice and snow down to the shingles. Always leave a light layer. Leaving it acts as a barrier between the tool and the shingles. This helps ensure that they don’t accidentally get damaged and cause a leak when things begin to thaw out.

man removing snow from roof

A neat trick – use heavy-duty string

We read an article about a man who came up with a genius trick for removing snow safely. Preferably before any snow falls, strategically secure some heavy-duty string to the highest peak of your roof and let it dangle close to the ground.

When the snow begins building up, grab the line, pull it sideways to cut underneath the snow, and it will cause an avalanche effect. Not only is this more efficient, but it’s also safer because you’re farther away from where the snow will be falling. When using a roof rake, you have to stand directly beneath it and move quickly enough to get out of the way before getting hit.

The method you choose to use isn’t of utmost importance. Being safe in the way you do it is. Hopefully, we have given you a few tips to help you out if you need to remove snow from your roof this winter.

REMEMBER TO ALWAYS WAY THE PROPER FOOTWEAR WHEN WALKING ON A ROOF.

About the Author Adam Harris

Hi there! My name is Adam and I write for HealthyHandyman. I have a great passion for writing about everything related to tools, home improvement, and DIY. In my spare time, I'm either fishing, playing the guitar, or spending quality time with my beloved wife. You'll also often find me in my workshop working on some new project!