Removing Snow To Prevent Roof Damage

29 April 2015
 Categories: , Articles


Every home has a roof made out of asphalt, wood, ceramic, or steel materials that properly minimizes heat loss and the presence of water within the home.  Roofing materials are made to last a long time, so you do not have to worry about paying for replacements regularly.  Although this is true, you are likely to see some bits of damage over time.  Damage can even be excessive if snow and ice accumulate on the top of your roof.  Snow can and should be removed if it becomes too heavy or too thick, and you can find useful information in this article to help you with the removal.

Evaluate Your Roof

Before you consider removing snow and ice from your roof, you should inspect the structure to see if it is at risk of becoming damaged.  Determine the pitch of your roof first.  Roofs that are considered more flat with a low angle or pitch are likely to retain more snow and ice, while a steep pitch will allow snow to slide off more easily.  Roof pitches are measured according to the number of feet the roof drops as you move out and down from the peak.  An acceptable pitch for snow is one that drops three feet every foot, and this is called a 3:12 pitch.  A 4:12 pitch is even better to keep snow from accumulating on your roof, and so is any pitch higher than this.

To measure your roof pitch, place a ladder against the side of your home and use a yard stick or measuring tape to measure one foot horizontally from the bottom edge of your roof.  Use the tape or stick to measure upward until it reaches the base of the roof.

Consider the Snow

After you have considered your roof pitch and have figured out if the pitch is or is not angled enough to release snow, also consider how much weight the snow is placing on your roof.  The average roof can sustain about 20 pounds per square foot.  Weights that exceed this amount start to place strain on the roofing materials and damage is likely to start occurring.  The weight of snow can vary greatly depending on its type.  Fresh snow that is light and airy weighs less than compacted snow that has melted or compressed over time.  Fresh snow weighs about five pounds per square foot while old snow weighs 10 or more pounds per square foot.  Ice is even heavier, and it weighs about 50 pounds per square foot, even though ice rarely becomes this thick.

This means that over four feet of fresh snow, over two feet of old snow, or five or six inches of ice may be too heavy for your roof.  Most roofs contain a combination of new and old snow and ice, so use your best judgment to determine the weight.  Also, if your doors become difficult to open during the winter months, then it may be a sign that the weight on your roof is forcing the roof and the support beams downward a small amount.  If this is the case or if you have determined that snow and ice are too heavy, then you should think about removing the snow.

Snow Removal Methods

It is extremely dangerous to climb on your roof during the winter month, so consider buying a tool that will let you remove the snow from the ground instead.  A snow rake can help you with this.  This tool is a plastic or metal type of rake that looks similar to a garden rake.  The rake will feature a long handle and it is wise to look for a device that is 15 or 20 feet long.  This way you can reach a good portion of your roof.  Use the rake to scrape off snow, but leave about one-half of an inch behind.  Otherwise, the rake may scrape the roofing shingles and cause damage. For more information on keeping your roof stable, contact a roofing repairs company.