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Tips for Removing Snow from Roofs

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Remind homeowners about removing snow from roofs

Removing Snow From RoofsThe February 8th winter storm hit Massachusetts with 27″ of wet, heavy snow.  Needless to say it presented a variety of challenges for many a folk. As temperatures warm up and rainfall is forecasted that means heavy, heavy snow-covered roofs.

Flat roofs, lower roofs that meet higher roofs, and areas with parapets or areas of drifting snow are major concerns.  Removing snow from roofs will minimize the likelihood of structural collapse. Flat and low pitched roofs, are at the greatest risk of buckling under heavy snow and ice accumulations. Lower roofs, where snow drifts or accumulates from higher roofs are also vulnerable.

As a competent contractor you should be educating your clients on the dangers posed by heavy snow loads on roofs, and the warning signs of potential structural weaknesses.  Below are some tips to share with customers to help them with removing snow from roofs:

Tips for removing snow from roofs and other areas  – DO’s

  • Use a snow rake for pitched roofs (available at most hardware stores) to remove snow from your roof.
  • Start from the edge and work your way into the roof.
  • Try to shave the snow down to a 2 or 3 inches on the roof instead of scraping the roof clean, which will risk damage to your shingles or other roof covering.
  • Keep in mind that any metal tool could conduct electricity if it touches a power line and metal tools may cause damage to the roof.
  • Shovel snow from flat roofs throwing the snow over the side away from the building. Most plastic shovels are better, except for the ones with curved blades-those too will do some damage to your roof.
  • Remove large icicles carefully if they’re hanging over doorways and walkways. Consider knocking down icicles through windows using a broom stick.
  • Wear protective headgear and goggles when performing any of these tasks.
  • Consider hiring professionals to do the job. The combination of heights plus ice makes this one of the more dangerous house chores.
  • If you don’t hire professionals, at least have someone outside with you in case anything does go wrong.
  • Keep gutters, and drains clean, free of ice and snow and keep downspouts clean at ground level.
Roof Snow Removal Tips

Image from johndarvish.com

Tips for removing snow from roofs and other areas – DON’T’s

  • Unless approved by a registered professional engineer, don’t add your weight or the weight of equipment to the roof.
  • Don’t use a ladder since ice tends to build up on both the rungs of the ladder and the soles of your boots.
  • Don’t use electric heating devices like hair dryers or heat guns to remove snow and ice.
  • Don’t use open-flame devices to remove snow and ice.
  • A cubic foot of dry snow weighs about seven pounds, while a cubic foot of wet snow may weigh up to 20 pounds; that’s heavy. So, if possible, building owners should consider hiring someone to help with all of the snow clearing.

How to recognize problems with roofs

Tell your customers that if they see any of the following problems, it is imperative that they immediately contact a professional and start removing snow from their roof.

  • Sagging roofs
  • Severe roof leaks
  • Cracked or split wood members
  • Bends or ripples in supports
  • Cracks in walls or masonry
  • Sheared off screws from steel frames
  • Sprinkler heads that have dropped down below ceiling tiles
  • Doors that pop open
  • Doors or windows that are difficult to open
  • Bowed utility pipes or conduit attached at ceiling
  • Creaking, cracking or popping sounds

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About

Robert Robillard is the editor of the blog, A Concord Carpenter, Assistant Editor of Tool Box Buzz and principal of a carpentry and renovation business located in Concord, Massachusetts. Rob hosts the Concord Carpenter... Read more

3 comments on “Tips for Removing Snow from Roofs

  1. Michael

    Well written Robert. In New Hampshire we regularly deal with large snow amounts as well as the roof damage that results. Those that fail to heed your warnings could be in for real trouble.

  2. Esther Oakley

    I am glad I read this, I will be more confident while applying some of the removal techniques. My husband thought triggering an avalanche would be the right course of action, men sometimes! I am not too worried about damaging the roof however, we plan on having it replaced in the spring with a metal replacement. I hear that metal is a great roof to have in a winter area.

    http://southeastcontracting.com/services.htm

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