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Here’s how to safely clear your roof of snow and ice

removing snow

It’s wonderful to see Nevada’s suburban neighborhoods covered in snow! Families build snowmen, sled down hills, or just lie down and make snow angels. But, as with all good things, too much snow can mean bad news, especially for your roof.

Firstly, snow may melt and refreeze into ice dams that could compromise the watertightness of your roof and cause leaks.

Related reading: 4 Things that can shorten the life span of your roof

Secondly, your roof can only bear so much snow. You’ll know it’s time to shed off a few pounds when:

  • Ceiling boards sag
  • Creaking, cracking, and popping sounds emanate from the attic
  • Cracks appear in the walls or masonry
  • Roof leak symptoms appear
  • Doors can’t be opened or shut

How to prevent snow and ice from weighing down your roof

If you ignore these warning signs and let snow and ice accumulate, you run the risk of your roof caving in. Here are ways to prevent the accumulation of snow and the formation of ice dams:

  1. Install de-icing cables along the eaves of your roof – Run the cables in a zigzagging pattern along the edges of your roof. Keep in mind that these cables consume a lot of electricity and cheaper ones are prone to failure.
  2. Place sidewalk salt along the vertical edges of your roof – Fill pantyhose or stockings with sidewalk salt (also known as calcium chloride or chemical de-icer) and tie off the ends. Lay these along the vertical edges of the roof. The sidewalk salt will melt the snow and create a channel where the runoff can drain away and not freeze back up again into ice dams.

How to remove snow and ice accumulation

If you have not put such preventive measures in place yet and come to find that snow and ice have built up on your roof, you can remove them safely by doing the following.

  1. Use a snow rake to remove the top layer of snow – Since roofs may be damaged by the tines of heavy garden rakes, you’ll want to use snow rakes, which are lightweight and are especially designed to break up snow. Work at ground level — avoid climbing up a ladder to reach the roof. You might slip on a wet or an icy rung and fall from a great height. If you must use a ladder, use one with rubberized rungs, which are slip-resistant, and get someone to hold it steady for you.

    Be mindful of branches and avoid power lines. Begin at the edges of your roof and work your way to the middle. Make sure to rake off only the top layer of snow to avoid damaging or loosening shingles.

  2. Spread de-icer over the remaining snow – You can use sidewalk salt-filled pantyhose to de-ice your roof. Wear protective gloves and spread handfuls of de-icer in an even layer over the entire surface of the roof. If you have a metal roof, be sure to pick the correct de-icer, as the wrong type may corrode the metal.

  3. Spray or pour hot water on problem spots – In case there are areas you’ve missed, spray or pour warm or hot water on top of the ice to melt it. To reach those missed areas, lay a ladder against the edge of the roof and have someone steady it while you climb.

Obviously, you’ll want to clear your roof of snow and ice on a clear day, preferably when it’s not so windy. Watch out for slip hazards, and warn others to stay away from where you’re working lest they get buried under a deluge of snow. This task requires a lot of physical exertion, so sing along to your favorite Christmas carols to keep your spirits up. And, after a job well done, be sure to reward yourself with a mug of hot chocolate!

After clearing your roof of snow, you may need D&D Roofing’s specialists to assess your roof’s integrity and perhaps even have it repaired. For this and all other kinds of roofing concerns, drop us a line today.