Roof Snow Removal: When to Do It and How

Sep 22, 2023

WRITTEN BY:

Viking Contractors

CATEGORY:

Uncategorized

POSTED ON:

September 22, 2023

UPDATED ON:

May 10, 2024

Got Questions?

You’ve probably heard that having too much snow on your roof isn’t a good sign. But if you’re still unsure about when to schedule a roof snow removal appointment or whether to do it yourself, this article is for you. 

We’ll also go over the dangers associated with shoveling snow off your roof and show you an easy technique you can follow. 

Our experts at Viking Contractors are available to help you with all your roofing needs, so make sure to check out the areas we serve!

 

When Should You Remove Snow From Your Roof?

People frequently ask us about the telltale signs they should look for to know it’s time to clear the roof of snow. 

A good rule of thumb is to remove snow from your roof when it becomes 6 inches deep or more. Noticing ice dams forming is also a major indicator that you should clear your roof. 

However, you won’t have to worry about snow removal if you have a sloped roof that’s built following the new building codes. That’s because they’re constructed to withstand the heaviest snowfall expected in each region.

But this doesn’t apply to old sloped roofs or ones that were poorly constructed. These are much more fragile, so you need to shovel snow off them routinely. The same goes if you have a low-sloped or flat roof. 

 

Should You Remove Roof Snow Yourself or Call a Pro?

snow covered roof and scaffolding on a building site

Snow on a roof is a hazardous combo. The act of snow shoveling alone causes thousands of injuries and up to 100 deaths yearly across the country. Now, imagine the dangers of doing it on a roof. 

You see, there’s a lot more to it than just sweeping snow. You must understand how to warm up before getting to work, what temperature to work with when to take breaks, and many other critical considerations. 

Otherwise, you risk straining your heart and suffering a cardiac arrest, which is sadly a common occurrence when removing snow. 

There will also be the danger of working in a cold climate. For instance, you can get frostbite if you don’t dress properly for the job. Besides, freezing temperatures can increase the likelihood of blood clotting, even in healthy people. 

We know we’ve laid out some worrying facts, but that’s to show you that rooftop snow removal isn’t as easy as you might think. Finding a reputable roofing contractor to complete this task will undoubtedly be safer and more efficient than doing it yourself. 

 

How to Remove Snow From Your Roof: Ground-Level

Although tackling snow on your roof isn’t something we recommend, especially if there are ice dams, there’s one technique that’s considered suitable for beginners. You can use it when it’s absolutely necessary to get this job done on your own.

Safety Guidelines

First things first, there are a few safety precautions you should be aware of before getting to work:

  1. Arrange with someone to accompany you while performing this task; don’t work alone.
  2. Do all the work while standing on the ground. Never use a ladder or climb up the roof, as wet snow creates a slippery surface.
  3. Check the weather forecast first to avoid encountering heavy rain or a storm.
  4. Wear gloves, boots, and enough layers to keep you warm.
  5. Always keep an eye out for where the snow will fall, as its weight can damage objects beneath it and cause injuries. 

Tools Required

Here are the tools you’ll need to have on hand:

  • Snow shovel/blower
  • Long-handled snow rake

Man clearing snow by shovel after snowfall. Outdoors.

Instructions

This is where the real work starts! To safely remove snow from your rooftop, follow these steps: 

Step 1: Make Paths to Walk In

Since you’ll clear snow while standing on the ground, having accessible paths to walk in will help you stay in control. You don’t want to trip while a pile of snow is sliding off your roof.

Using a snow shovel or a snow blower, whichever is more convenient for you, make clear passages around the house or in the areas where you’ll be working. 

Step 2: Section the Roof

This isn’t the kind of job you can rush. Moving around the roof rake wildly in the snow won’t work. In fact, it’ll make the job harder and more dangerous as you won’t have control over the amount of snow falling off. 

You must work on small parts one at a time. So, visually divide your roof into small sections, beginning with the one you’ll start with and ending with the one you’ll finish with.

Step 3: Remove Snow From Each Section

Before clearing snow, keep in mind that you shouldn’t remove it completely. This is because doing so can damage the roof covering, which in turn can lead to leaks. That’s why you should always aim to leave about an inch of snow on the roof. 

It’s also important to note that you shouldn’t use metal shovels/rakes on your roof as they can easily scratch it and break vulnerable parts. Opt for plastic ones instead. 

Now, hold the snow rake and start pulling small amounts of snow toward you, starting from the roof’s edge, then work your way up. Avoid stacking snow on one part of the roof and then taking it all down. The weight of such a pile may result in a roof collapse. 

 

Wrapping Up

Having excess snow and ice on your roof isn’t something you should take lightly. This is especially true for homes with old sloped or flat roofs. 

If you have a minor ice buildup and want to clear it yourself, follow the steps outlined in the ground-level method we explained, as well as the safety considerations.

For a safer and more qualified approach in severe cases, you must hire a professional. Contact Viking Contractors today and have one of our experts take care of this for you!

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