Do I Need to Remove the Snow on My Roof?

by | Jan 22, 2015 | Home Maintenance Tips, Roofing

It’s cold, snowy, and blustery. Canadian winter is in full swing and we’re seeing lots of snow throughout Southern Ontario.

Piles of snow on your roof may lend your home a certain picturesque beauty – but how do you know when the snow starts to become too heavy and potentially dangerous? How can you tell if it needs to be removed?

Roofing services, Hamilton, St. Catharines, Burlington, OakvilleWhen Does Rooftop Snow Become Dangerous?

Typical homes and well-installed roofs are built to withstand a reasonable amount of snowfall. Most of the time, you shouldn’t have to worry about the amount of snow on your roof.

However, during this season, sometimes the snow storms and ice storms lead to an excessive amount of snow accumulating on your roof.

When that happens, the first thing to know is that it’s not about the amount or depth of snow on your roof – it’s about the weight.

Light fluffy snow is generally no problem for a well-constructed home.

Heavy, wet, icy snow is where homeowners start to encounter problems. Heavy snow, mixed with sleet and ice, puts stress on your roof.

If your area has had several winter storms barraging you with dense, heavy snow (you can tell the snow is heavy just by shovelling your driveway and walkway!), you should consider the possibility of the excessive snow loads threatening the integrity of your roof.

What Are the Dangers of Snow-Covered Roofs?

Roofs under pressure from too much heavy snow are at risk of:

  • Structural damage
  • Ice dams (causing roof rot, damage to flashing and gutters, etc.)
  • Collapse

How Can I Tell If My Roof Is Unsafe?

If heavy snowfall has built up on your roof, watch out for these warning signs:

  • Doors on interior walls begin to stick or pop open: While doors leading outside may stick in the winter, inside doors shouldn’t be affected. If they are sticking or popping open, the weight of the snow may be enough to distort the door frames.
  • Sagging, severe roof leaks, or cracks in the wall: These are signs of a roof that is in danger of collapsing.
  • Sounds of creaking, popping, or cracking: If you hear any of these noises while your roof is under strain from the snow, you should get out of the house immediately. These are warning signs of an impending collapse.

You may be especially susceptible to snow-related roof damage and collapses if:

  • You have a flat roof: Flat roofs should be watched more closely in the winter, and cleared of snow more often. They cannot withstand the pressure as well as sloped roofs.
  • Your home has had un-permitted renovations: If your home has undergone a renovation without adherence to the proper standards, it may have had an important load-bearing inner wall removed. This contributes to devastating roof collapses.

How Can I Remove the Snow If I Need To?

Obviously, you don’t want to let your roof get to the point where it is in danger of developing damaging ice dams or even collapsing from the weight of the snow.

Two-storey Homes and Higher

If you have noticed an unusual amount of heavy snow accumulating on your roof, you should call a professional, experienced roof contractor or roof snow removal contractor.

This is not a job you want to do yourself, especially if your home is two or more stories high. Ladders and roofs can be slippery even in good conditions, let alone in the middle of the winter and covered with slick snow and ice. Under no circumstance should homeowners get up on their roof to clear the snow.

Professionals have the right gear and tools to make the job safe.

One-storey Homes

We still recommend calling the professionals, as it is the safest and most effective option.

However, if you have a one storey home with the roof not far from the ground, you may be able to remove some of the snow on your own. That said, never ever get up on the slippery roof, even if it’s only one-storey high.

Snow-removal tools are available at hardware store, such as long-handled snow rakes. Unfortunately, none of the snow-removal tools out there are perfect. Most will only remove the fluffier snow – which isn’t the problem snow in the first place!

If you choose to try the DIY approach (remember: this is only an option for one storey homes!), you must be careful not to pull down a load of heavy snow on top of yourself.

Roofing Contractors Are the Best Solution

As we’ve mentioned – the best solution for excess snow on your roof is to call the roofing professionals! They’ll ensure that both your roof and the people working on removing the snow are safe.

>> Herb Lodde & Son’s Roofing offers roof snow removal services throughout the winter. Contact us today!

We serve customers in Niagara, St. Catharines, Hamilton, Burlington, and Oakville.

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