3 Benefits of Regular Roof Snow Removal

Although roofs in northern climates are typically designed to withstand heavy snowfalls, routinely clearing snow off your roof is an important part of 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.

The Importance of Roof Snow Removal

Heavy snow and ice can put a strain on the structure of your entire property—potentially leading to severe damage to your home or commercial building. 

Regular roof snow removal helps prevent:

Excess Weight

Even though your roof is built to handle a fair amount of weight, the excess weight of snow and ice can increase the risk of your roof leaking or even collapsing.

Ice Dams

Ice dams form when roof ice melts. It then travels down to the eaves, where it refreezes. This 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.

Moisture 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 Much Snow Can a Roof Hold?

There are many factors to consider when determining how much snow your roof can hold. The type of roof, its design, and the steepness of its pitch all factor into the equation to let you know when too much snow on your roof is a problem. 

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. And you will need to remove snow from a flat roof more often than you would for a steeply pitched roof because snow will accumulate more easily 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

Generally speaking, it’s recommended that you begin clearing snow off your roof after about 6 inches have accumulated. Most roofs can withstand around 20 pounds of snow per square foot (though local building codes will vary). 

To get a good idea of the impact of snow on your roof, try this snow load calculator.

How To Get Snow Off Your Roof: Recommended Equipment

When it comes time to clear snow off your roof, you need to ensure you have the right equipment to do the job safely and properly. We recommend using a roof snow shovel (also known as a snow rake) to remove snow from your roof.

A roof snow shovel is not the same as the shovel you use to clear your sidewalks. It is made specifically for roof snow removal. It features a long, extendable handle so you can tackle snow removal from the ground. 

Always refer to your roof rake’s instructions and recommendations from your roofing material manufacturer before clearing snow off your roof, but here are the basics of using a roof snow shovel:

  1. Clear a perimeter around your house to ensure stable footing
  2. Assemble your roof snow shovel, keeping handle extensions nearby
  3. Watch for overhead utility lines as you work
  4. Start clearing snow at the edge of your roof and work your way toward the top
  5. 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 Snow Removal?

If you don’t feel comfortable clearing snow off your roof on your own, contact a professional to do it for you.

And if ice dams develop, or you notice signs of interior moisture damage, contact All Elements for help. 

We offer ice dam removal solutions, as well as roof inspection and repair services. Give us a call at 763-314-0234 or fill out our online form today!