If you are in an area that gets a lot of snow, and it tends to stick around for a long time, you may wonder whether it’s necessary to clear the snow off your roof. A lot depends on how much snow there is. If there are only a few inches and it’s likely it will melt away in a couple of days, you may not need to clear the snow. However, a lot of damage can be done to a roof when heavy snow is left sitting for several days or weeks at a time. This is especially true for flat roofs but can also apply to standard roofing.
Snow is water, and it can get heavy. In rare instances, you could have a cave-in if there was enough snow on your roof. The snow itself is not the main problem. The problem comes when ice dams form on your roof. This happens when ice builds up at the edge of your roof, preventing water from melting snow from draining off the side of your roof. Weight is a problem, but water seeping into your house is the greater danger.
How ice dams form
An ice dam forms when water is not able to get off your house fast enough and refreezes. When enough of that builds up, it will hold back even more draining water, and that will freeze. One of the leading causes of ice dams is a hot roof. A house that is not energy efficient will gather a lot of heat near the roof, which melts the snow and ice even faster. If a dam is starting to form, and the weather remains below freezing, the ice dam will grow.
Other than a hot roof, the temperature outside is a primary culprit that you cannot control. If the weather is warm enough to melt ice during the day and gets low enough to freeze again at night, you have perfect conditions for an ice dam to form. When the temperatures stay close to freezing, maybe only two or three degrees, either way, you can have the same effect though it is slower to develop. Also, be aware that radiant heat from the sun can melt ice on your roof by warming it up, even if the temperature never gets above freezing during the day.
Importance of drainage and gutters
Water that cannot drain either turns to ice or just sits there. That water can damage your roof, and it can seep under the surface. If left there, it can damage the surface of your roof, and eventually ill get into the attic and into the house itself. Soon you could have a water leak.
Gutters in good working order can help prevent ice dams from forming, but clogged gutters can make them worse. Gutters carry water off the roof as the ice melts. Once the gutters get clogged, they cannot drain water, and that water may freeze when it gets cold again. That water that has nowhere to go can freeze and become part of an ice dam. Clean and functioning gutters will drain water off before it can refreeze. Getting your gutters cleaned in the fall, or at least before winter weather starts, is a great way to protect your home, and that can lessen the formation of ice dams.
How to get the snow removed
There are big safety issues when it comes to clearing ice and snow off your roof. It is possible to clear a few feet from the edge, which can help with ice dams, but it is not advisable to get on a ladder with ice and snow around. You can use a roof rake as a much safer alternative to a ladder, which will effectively clear the front edges of most rooflines. The danger with pulling snow off from the ground is getting covered with snow and ice, which could cause injuries. You want to be especially careful of falling icicles. Icicles look pretty but can cause serious injury if they fall on you.
You should never get on the roof and try to push snow off. There is a great danger of slipping and falling, and even falling off the roof. Even if you do not injure yourself, you could cause damage your roof by using the wrong equipment.
However, you should remove ice dams to prevent water damage to your roof and the rest of your house. Using professional ice dam removal services might be a good idea to avoid hurting yourself or damaging your house. Professional snow removers have the right equipment and have the skills needed to remove the ice dams without danger to anyone.