5 Important Tips for Removing Snow from Your Roof

As much as we’d all like to pretend otherwise, winter is coming. And with the cold, frigid temperatures also comes snow. While the snowboarders and skiers might be celebrating, most homeowners are dreading the days when they cringe up at their roofs, wondering if this is the year all that heavy snow leads to a collapse. Removing snow from your roof is essential to keeping your home and family safe. 

In this post, you’ll find all the information you need to know when roof snow removal is necessary and how to safely remove it from your roof. 

Can a roof carry a snow load?

A small amount of light snow won’t damage your roof. However, the type of snow also makes a difference. For instance, wet snow weighs quite a lot more than light, fluffy snow that’s reminiscent of Christmas card scenery.

There’s a simple practice you can use to determine how heavy a snowfall is. When you’re shovelling off your driveway or sidewalks, pay attention to the snow’s weight and how much effort it takes to move. Also, take note of its consistency. If it’s wet and heavy, chances are you’ll need to remove it from your roof. 

The pitch of your roof will also determine what snow load it can handle. Flat roofs and shallow pitches are far more susceptible to drifts. When the wind blows snow into larger piles, it adds stress onto certain parts of your roof and can lead to damages and even partial collapses if not maintained properly. 
So how much weight can a professionally installed roof hold? On average, a roof can hold about 20 lbs of snow per square foot. This could be anywhere between 5 to 12 inches, depending on the type of snow.

Dangers of keeping heavy snow on your roof

Not removing snow from your roof if it accumulates more than 20 lbs can lead to a wide range of expensive, dangerous, and extremely stressful situations. Here are some of the dangers of heavy snow on your roof: 

01. Weakening Your Home’s Structural Integrity

Keeping heavy snow drifts on your roof can stress certain parts of your home’s structure. You may notice cracks in your drywall or doors not closing properly around their frames. When your property’s structural integrity is compromised, it can lead to expensive repairs and permanent damage if not corrected. 

02. Leaks

While snow remains frozen in subzero temperatures, once the weather warms all of that piled snow on your roof will start to melt. This sudden runoff can cause your roof to leak, which can damage your internal assembly, create an environment for mold and mildew, and contribute to rot and the eventual loss of structural integrity. 

03. Roof Collapse 

The most dangerous of the situations, a roof collapse occurs when too much weight is placed on the roof, eventually compromising the structural integrity of your home beyond repair. Not only is this extremely expensive to fix, but it also puts your family in danger. 

So how do you prevent these situations? How do you safely remove snow from your roof, so you can protect your home and property?

Roofing crew removing snow from your roof

01. Get the right tool

When it comes to removing snow from your roof, a snow or roof rake is your best option. Featuring a long, often adjustable handle with a wide rake head, they allow you to safely remove snow while remaining on the ground. They come in a variety of sizes and models and are available in most home or hardware stores. 

While roof rakes are great for smaller snowfalls and more accessible drifts, most models won’t be able to remove dense or hard-to-reach snow. In those scenarios, it’s always best to contact a roof snow removal company.

02. Safety should always be your first priority

In Canada, there’s a 34% average increased risk of death from a heart attack following heavy snowfall. Additionally, 11,500 Americans are treated in the ER for snow removal incidents and injuries. These rates increase with any dangerous activity, such as removing snow from your roof. 

Safety should always come first. During the winter months, snow and frozen rain can make your shingles extremely slippery. Climbing onto your roof to remove snow is considered dangerous and should be avoided at all costs. It can also damage your shingles and lead to leaks. 

Call a snow removal company if you can’t remove all the snow using a roof rake or other tool. They have the right experience, equipment, and training to safely remove snow from your roof. 

03. Never use metal shovels

The one thing all roof rakes have in common is that they aren’t made of metal. Instead, they’re comprised of strong polymers that are durable but won’t damage your shingles. Using a metal shovel or tool can strip the granules off your shingles, exposing them to moisture damage and ultimately increasing your risk of leaks. 

Investing in the proper tool can save you money and headaches down the road. 

04. Consider installing heating cables

If you want to avoid snow build-up at all costs, consider having heating cables installed before the weather turns. This convenient tool melts snow as it comes into contact with the cables, effectively eliminating build up. 

But there are a couple things to keep in mind about using heating cables on your roof:

01. It will increase your energy bills

While heating cables are convenient, they will run up your energy cost. Most models come with the ability to turn the heat and off. So you can minimize your usage until days or nights when there’s expected snowfall. But, even so, you’ll likely experience higher than usual energy bills. 

02. They can cause injuries if not used properly

For the best results, you need to turn on the heating cables right before or at the very beginning of a snowfall. Turning them on after snow has already gathered on your roof can cause large chunks of snow or ice to fall off your roof, potentially injuring anyone walking or standing beneath.

05. Never ignore snow drifts

As we’ve already mentioned, snow drifts can present the most danger to your roof and structural integrity. When high winds are combined with snowfall, drifts are typically unavoidable. And, as Canadians, we are no strangers to witnessing drifts that can grow as tall (or even taller) than us. 

If you’re unsure whether a drift is dangerous, take a picture with your phone and send it our way. We’ll give you an honest assessment and let you know if it needs to be removed. 

Edmonton Snow Removal for Residential or Commercial Properties

At Knight’s, our mission is to provide protection from above. All of our services aim to protect you, your family, and your investment. Learn more about our snow removal services for residential or commercial roofs, and don’t hesitate to contact us for a free estimate!