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Tips for clearing snow and ice from your roof

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In small quantities, snow on your roof is harmless if your roof is well maintained and up to the task of keeping moisture out. But snow in large quantities can be very problematic. Homes, and especially older ones, can only handle so much weight, and snow and ice weighs a lot. When too much snow and ice accumulates, it can cause structural damage to your home. In rare instances, it can even cause the entire roof to collapse which has happened dozens of time this winter in the north east where the winter has been especially brutal. Though the odds of an entire roof collapse are quite low, it’s still a good idea to clear away the snow and ice occasionally. Here are some tips for doing the task safely.

When to start

If it’s just a few inches of snow, it’s probably not enough to worry about unless your roof is prone to ice damming, then even a small amount of snow can be problematic. A good rule of thumb is to let the snow be until there is at least one foot of it accumulated on your roof. Then it’s time to pull out the roof rake and start clearing snow. Don’t use a regular rake, shovel, or make-shift tool as these can damage your roofing materials. It’s better to use the right tools for the job or hire a professional who has the proper tools. Keep in mind that it’s much easier to remove fresh, loose snow. If you wait until the snow has melted a little and then refrozen, you’re going to be dealing with more ice and packed snow which is a lot trickier to remove. After a heavy snowfall, the sooner you get out to clear it away, the better. The other advantage to removing the snow early in the day is that it gives the sunshine the opportunity to melt any packed snow or ice later in the day that was underneath the fresh layer of snow on the top. Just make sure your rain gutters and downspouts are clear of snow and ice so that the melting snow and ice has a way to get off your roof. You may need to run hot water through your gutters to clear away any snow and ice that has accumulated there.

Do it safely

Never climb on the roof itself when it’s covered in ice and/or snow. It’s an accident waiting to happen. Work from a ladder and always have another person with you to steady the ladder. If you have a two story home or if you aren’t 100% comfortable with doing the job yourself, hire a professional. They have the proper training and equipment to do the job safely and correctly.

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