Snow Removal: An Important Part of Roofing Maintenance

Snow Removal

Roofing repairs from snow damage can be significant. While roofs are built to be durable and withstand the weather, the weight of wet or deep snow can cause significant problems, even causing the roof to cave in if the buildup becomes too heavy for the structure to support. Fortunately, there are some steps homeowners can take to protect their buildings from damage. Care is needed to avoid unnecessary risks, however. Steep roofs and heavy or frozen buildup may require professional intervention to avoid damage and risk of injury.

Pulling snow down with a roof rake can be effective on a single-story home. With this method, the homeowner simply stands on the ground and reaches up with a rake on a long pole to pull snow down from the surface. Raking requires regular monitoring of the situation because excessive accumulation can become very heavy or even frozen, making it more difficult to remove. It’s important to choose a rake that has rollers, to prevent direct contact between the edge of the rake and the shingles, and to avoid damage. A curved handle is best for reaching far enough up to pull the snow down. With multistory buildings, a rake may not be sufficient. The homeowner may need to go up onto the roof and remove the snow by shoveling, but this method risks several hazards. Climbing around on a slippery roof can be dangerous, and is best left to professionals.

Another approach to consider is prevention. Homes that are more than 20 or 30 years old may not have sufficient insulation to prevent accumulation. When heat escapes through the shingles, it melts the initial snowfall, creating moisture that in turn holds the snow in place, creating additional accumulation. Adding insulation, especially in attics, not only improves the efficiency of the HVAC system, but it also helps reduce the chance of buildup during heavy winter storms. When building a new home, design is important to ensure there are no valleys or sheltered spots where drifts can build up, creating a weight problem.

Ice dams are a serious problem in roofing. When snow is allowed to accumulate over time, the melting and re-freezing creates lines of ice along the edges of the building, putting serious strain on the drainage system. Gutters can become damaged and destroyed under the extra weight. The dams prevent melting snow from sliding off, and push the water backward, rather than allowing it to drain naturally off the slope.

Snow and ice pose a significant danger to the structural integrity of a home. It’s important for homeowners to understand the importance of snow removal and prevention of ice buildup. Regular inspections and maintenance can prevent damage and cut down on the costs of repair or replacement. Homeowners who are not equipped or willing to handle roofing maintenance should consider hiring a licensed professional to remove snow and perform regular checks. An expert’s inspection can pinpoint problem areas before they worsen, and prevent damage from snow, ice, and other hazards.