Most home roofing systems in northern climates can withstand heavy snowfalls. However, clearing snow off your roof is an essential part of residential winter roof maintenance.
Read on to learn more about the benefits of clearing snow off your roof, how often to do it, and what equipment we recommend.
Why You Should Remove Snow from Your Roof
Heavy snow and ice can put additional strain on the structure of your entire property, which can lead to severe damage to your home or commercial building.
Regular roof snow removal helps prevent:
Even if your roof can handle a fair amount of weight, the extra weight of snow and ice can increase the risk of your roof leaking or even collapsing.
Ice dams form when roof ice melts. It then travels down to the eaves, where it refreezes. Next, ice builds up along the roofline, keeping gutters from carrying water away from the roof and causing melted snow to build up behind the ice dam.
Over time, this water can creep up under the shingles, potentially penetrating the building’s envelope and causing interior water damage.
Whether it’s due to ice dams or weight-related roof damage, excess snow and ice on your roof can lead to interior moisture damage. As water seeps through your roof’s underlayment, it can wreak havoc on your ceilings, walls, and furnishings.
How Many Inches of Snow Can a Roof Hold?
There are many factors to consider when determining how much snow your roof can hold, such as
- The type of roof (i.e., material)
- Its design
- The steepness of its pitch
For instance, when it comes to residential homes, metal and asphalt roofs are generally better suited to withstand the weight of snow than slate or wood shingles. If you own a flat roof, however, you'll need to remove snow more often than you would for a steeply pitched roof because snow will accumulate more efficiently on a flat roof.
Additionally, the weight of the snow will vary depending on its moisture content. Wet, slushy snow weighs much more than drier, fluffy snow. And an inch of ice can weigh as much as a foot of fresh snow.
General Rule of Thumb
A good rule of thumb is clearing snow off your roof after about 6 inches have accumulated. On average, most roofs can withstand around 20 pounds of snow per square foot (though local building codes will vary).
Tips on How to Get Snow Off Roof
When it comes time to clear snow off your roof, you must ensure you have the right equipment to do the job safely and correctly. We recommend using a roof snow shovel (also known as a snow rake) to remove snow from your roof.
A roof shovel is not the same as the shovel you use to clear your sidewalks. Instead, it is made specifically for roof snow removal. It features a long, extendable handle to tackle snow removal from the ground.
Although you should always refer to your roof rake’s instructions and recommendations from your roofing material manufacturer before clearing snow off your roof, here are the basics of roof shoveling:
- Clear a perimeter around your house to ensure stable footing
- Assemble your roof snow shovel, keeping handle extensions nearby
- Watch for overhead utility lines as you work
- Start clearing snow at the edge of your roof and work your way toward the top
- Instead of scraping it clean, leave a couple of inches of snow on the roof to avoid damage to your roofing material
Need Help with Roof Shoveling?
If you don’t feel comfortable clearing snow off your roof, contact a professional to do it for you. And if ice dams develop or you notice signs of interior moisture damage, it's better to leave the repair and maintenance to the experts.