The Best Ways To Remove Snow And Ice From Your Roof

Published December 28th, 2020 in Roof Maintenance
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When you own a home, waking up to a blanket of freshly fallen snow brings a little bit more than feelings of nostalgia. While making a snowman, drinking hot chocolate and shoveling the walkways may be on the list of activities for the day, you’ll also want to make checking the accumulation on your roof a top priority. This is because snow and ice can both cause significant damage to your roof and home, ranging from leaks to roof collapse.

Taking time to learn the best ways to remove snow and ice accumulation before damage occurs will help you keep your roof in good condition for years to come!

How Much Snow Is Too Much?

Each roof is constructed with different load-bearing capabilities according to the average amount of area snowfall. Keep in mind that wet snow weighs up to 6 times more than dry fluffy snow, so as a general rule, once buildup reaches three feet for fluffy snow, or two feet for wet snow, it needs to be removed.

Safe Snow Removal 

If you determine that snow needs to be removed, there are several steps you can take to ensure that you and your roof stay safe throughout the process:

  • Stay on the ground: the most important safety precaution you can take is to stay on the ground. Roofs are steep, and the risk of slipping on wet or icy shingles is high. It only takes one wrong step to ruin your snow day.
  • Use a roof rake: One of the best remedies for a snowy roof is a roof rake. This tool is specifically designed with a long handle to help homeowners remove snow from their roof while staying safe on the ground. It is important to use caution when pulling the rake across the roof so that you don’t hook it on shingles and listen or crack them.
  • Call a professional: If your roof is too high for you to safely remove snow from the ground, consider calling a professional company to handle the removal. They have the tools and experience necessary to safely remove the snow buildup from your roof.

Ice Dam Prevention and Removal 

Rooftop ice dams are one of the most devastating effects of snow and ice storms. During warm winter days, snowmelt can trickle down the roof and refreeze near the edge, causing an ice dam to form and prevent future snowmelt from draining off of the roof. This results in a backup of water that can be forced underneath the shingles and lead to significant water damage very quickly.

Prevention

The best way to protect your roof from the effects of an ice dam is to take steps to prevent one from occurring.

  • The most common cause of ice dams is inadequate attic insulation. If ice dams have been a problem in the past, making sure proper insulation is installed can go a long way in preventing them from forming in the future.
  • When a roof is even slightly warmer than the outside temperature, the snow will melt and ice dams are likely to form. This means the goal is to keep your roof near the same temperature as it is outside. An adequate ventilation system will release the warm air from your attic, and prevent your roof from warming up. 
  • Have a professional make sure there is ice and water shield from the eaves of your roof to at least two feet past the exterior walls of your home.  Ice and water shield is a layer of material underneath your shingles that helps keep excess water from penetrating the shingles and damaging the roof. 
  • Use a roof rake to remove snow from your roof. Removing the snow before it has a chance to melt will help remove the risk of snowmelt becoming stagnant and refreezing near the roof edge.
  • Installing heated deicing cables near the edge of your roof is a simple way to prevent ice dams. The heated cables add warmth near the roof edge and allow melted snow to drain off your roof completely, instead of refreezing near the edge.

Removal

If an ice dam forms, you should remove it as soon as possible in order to prevent damage from occurring. There are several effective ways to remove ice dams, and in many cases, successful removal may take a combination of methods.

  • Warm water: If the ice dam is small, spraying warm water on the area may loosen the dam enough to separate the ice from the shingles. You can buy a garden hose nozzle that heats the water to help with the task. This is a temporary fix that may only work for small dams.
  • Chemical ice melt: Roof melt tablets, or other roof products with ice-melting capabilities, can be applied to the ice dam to speed up the melting process. Depending on the thickness of the dam, this may require multiple applications. However, the runoff from these chemicals could damage shrubs and grass below your roof, as well as cause staining to your roofing material, so be careful during this process
  • Call A Professional: If you are unable to safely remove an ice dam, it is time to hire a professional to assist you. In most cases they will use commercial steaming equipment to heat water and dispense it near the dam until it melts away.

When removing an ice dam, make sure to avoid any removal method that involves sharp objects like a pick ax or ice chipper. These tools can easily puncture your roof and cause significant damage.

Cenvar Roofing Can Help With Winter Roof Damages 

No matter what type of winter roof damage is present on your roof, Cenvar Roofing can fix it. Our team has years of experience with year-round roof repairs, and a long track record of satisfied customers and sound roofs. Schedule your free estimate today to start the process. We look forward to hearing from you!