If you live in Nebraska, part of your regular roof maintenance inevitably involves clearing off snow.
Allowing too much heavy snow and ice to accumulate without taking the trouble to remove it can be extremely damaging. In the best scenario, you’ll end up needing to get your roof repaired. Heavy snowfall combined with neglect can cause the whole structure to fail. If this happens, you will need a complete roof replacement.
Ice dams can be disastrous, too. These don’t form without snow, and if you’re able to prevent them, you’re much less likely to suffer from a leaking roof or excess weight. Recently we responded to several damaged roofs in Papillion and the surrounding area.
Luckily, you can avoid these outcomes with relatively little effort. So how do you go about removing snow from your roof the easy way?
Fail To Plan, Plan To Fail
Since you know snow is a regular occurrence, be prepared and make sure you have the right tools in place.
A roof rake is indispensable, and you should always have one in the shed ready to roll. A shovel is also worth having in your arsenal, and we’ll look at the differences between raking and shoveling shortly.
So, assuming you have the basic tools in place, how do you know when you need to remove snow from your roof?
When Is Snow Removal Necessary?
If your primary goal is to prevent ice dams from forming, keeping snow from piling up should help you avoid this.
As a rough guide, you should remove snow following a snowfall of 6 inches. You can encounter problems with less snow on the roof just as you can sometimes get away with more snow piling up, but this is a reasonable rule of thumb.
If, on the other hand, you’re mainly concerned with avoiding a roof collapse and you haven’t previously been menaced by ice dams, you can afford to let the snow build up to a foot or so before taking action.
More important than the depth of snow, though, is the weight. When snow is wet, it can easily weigh five or six times the amount of dry, fluffy snow.
Another crucial factor is the snowfall forecast for the coming days. If it is built up on your roof and the temperatures will remain below freezing, it’s probably time to clear it off.
If in doubt, remove the snow. So how do you do that the right way?
Shovel or Rake?
There are 3 core factors that determine which method of snow removal is best:
- The size of your roof and height of your house
- The amount of snow on the roof
- The type of snow (wet or dry)
Using a roof rake is generally considered the smartest option.
With smaller homes, you should be able to reach pretty much the entire roof and clear it off with a rake.
If your house is a little taller, you should certainly be able to reach the overhangs with a roof rake. This will release much of the weight and mitigate the risk of ice dams forming.
Roof rakes have their limitations, though. Even with extension rods, you can only reach so high with a rake. Raking isn’t particularly effective with wet, heavy snow either.
If you’ve got heavy lifting to do or you’ve got a large and tall roof, there’s no substitute for a shovel.
If In Doubt, Call The Professionals
If a build-up of snow is causing you any concern or you’re not confident to rake or shovel on your own, don’t hesitate to call a roofing contractor.
This type of job is not particularly expensive. Compared to ignoring the issue and ending up needing a roof replacement, it’s a great investment.