How to Clear Snow From Your Roof

Snow-on-roof desktop

Few things are more breathtaking than the holiday movie-like aesthetic that comes with flurrying snow and that white winter blanket that covers your lawn and frosts your roof. But how do you keep snow off solar panels or that satellite dish, and what if you have too much snow on your roof?

Roof leaks, wall cracks, sagging ceilings, or popping and cracking noises during a snowfall could be signs of roof damage. Here’s how to get snow off your roof after a major snowfall — and some tips on preventing snow and ice from accumulating in the first place. That way you can enjoy the serenity of a midwinter snowfall.

Know your snow load

Most roofs can hold about 20 pounds per square foot of snow. Keep in mind, however, that older homes and those with flat roofing may accommodate less weight. As a rule of thumb, each inch of snow accumulation weighs 1.25 pounds, so 10 inches of snow would be 12.5 pounds per square foot. A large accumulation may be a sign it’s time for roof snow removal.

Use a roof rake

Snow isn’t the only issue that arises in frigid conditions, however. Ice dams can form at the edge of the roof and in the gutters. This ridge of ice effectively prevents any snowmelt from draining, potentially leaking moisture into the attic or the walls instead.

Roof rakes are an excellent way to break up ice dams for single-story homes. Wondering how to use a roof rake? The long-handled tools include a wide head and extendable pole, so you can stand safely on the ground and rake snow and ice from your roof — particularly at the edges where dams form. You can use a push broom to help sweep snow as well, but take care to not damage shingles in the process.

Remove buildup with a de-icer

If you want a product to help keep heavy layers of snow at bay, consider using an ice melt product formulated specifically for roofs. The salt you sprinkle on your sidewalks can damage your shingles, corrode your flashing, and damage your landscaping, so look for a product rated for the type of roof you have on your home.

Clean the gutters

Make sure your gutters and spouts remain in good condition before that first snowfall and all throughout winter. Clear them of any debris that could encourage the formation of ice dams or stop water runoff from flowing through.

Install heated elements

You may consider investing in heated cables or heated mats if you live in a climate that routinely experiences heavy snowfall. While these devices aren’t a panacea for all rooftop snow, the cables can help keep snow and ice from accumulating in gutters and near roof overhangs. They can set you back a few thousand dollars, depending on your roof size, and the heating elements do require maintenance over time.

Call in the experts

Sometimes it’s best to not go the DIY route and instead call in the pros, particularly if you own a multi-story home. Local and national snow removal companies bring the right tools for the job to safely and efficiently remove snow and ice from your roof. Plus, you won’t have to get on a ladder and risk a slip or fall.

Prep your home for snow

Inspect your attic’s insulation, ventilation, and check sealing before winter sets in. The right insulation and ventilation will help move air through the attic in the cold months, reducing the potential for ice dam formation. Airtight sealing means fewer issues with leaks, mold, and mildew down the road. Quickly detect leaks in the attic as a result of a downpour or snowfall by installing flood detectors that integrate with your home security system.

Visit the Brinks Home™ Blog to learn more about roof snow removal and other topics to keep your home safe and ready for winter.

Jason Stevens is a senior writer for Brinks Home. He is a "tech guy" who enjoys sharing home security and automation tips with others.

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