Snow on Rooftops: When is it Necessary to Remove and How Can it be Removed Safely

Snow on Rooftops: When is it Necessary to Remove and How Can it be Removed Safely

18th February 2020

If you’re living in a snow-prone area, you can relate to the challenges experienced with clearing off of the walkways and driveways. But snow usually builds up on the rooftop, as well. So, when can you tell it’s time to remove the snow on your rooftop, and what steps should you take for safe removal? Please read on.

Is it Necessary?

Too much snow and ice staying on your roof for too long can result in leaks, ice damming, and roof collapse. You may also need to conduct emergency roof repair and maintenance at some point. These issues make it necessary to remove excess snow from your roof. 

Now, how can you safely remove the excess snow and ice? Well, there are several ways to clear snow. For instance, you can use long-handled tools such as a snow rake but beware of the surrounding electrical hazards. 

Below are some of the most important tips to observe for the safe removal of the snow:

1.    If Possible, Avoid Going On the Roof
You have to determine whether it’s necessary to go on the roof when doing the clearing or not. The safest option is always not to go on the roof, especially if your main concern is overloading. Because adding the weight of your workers and equipment will only make it worse. If you can clear the snow while staying at ground level, the better. You can also use safety ladders, but ensure to observe safe use of the ladder. Avoid using a snow rake while standing on a ladder as you can easily lose your balance.  

2.    Beware of the Possible Fall Hazards
Before getting on the roof, ensure that you’re fully aware of the fall hazards you might encounter. Check whether there are skylights on the roof and if they are properly protected. It’s also important to consider the load capacity of your roof and if allowing your workers to get on the roof could be dangerous. Workers should wear proper gear, including slip-proof boots, gloves, and hats. 

3.    Don’t Let the Snow Pile Too High
It’s easier and safer to remove a few layers of snow than waiting until several layers have piled up. Having several layers piling up usually increases the chances of ice layers forming under snow layers, making the snow removal process extremely hazardous. For gabled roofs, begin removing from the ridge towards the eaves. You need to warn your workers to avoid making snow piles once on the roof to prevent overloading. They should also clear off the roof uniformly. 

4.    Use a Plastic Shovel
Using metallic shovels, mechanical equipment, and ice picks to remove snow on your roof could often result in roof damage and leaks. It’s recommended that you use objects that are not sharp, like plastic shovels, to reduce the risk of roof damage and leaks. It’s also important to assume the right posture and proper lifting when removing the snow. Use legs more than your back to prevent possible aches, cramps, and strain on your back muscles. 

5.    Don’t Remove All the Snow
Experts advise against removing all the snow on your roof to avoid slip-and-fall accidents and damaging the roofing material. If there’s no significant threat, avoid removing the snow at all. But if you must, it’s safe to leave about 5 centimetres of snow on the roof. Also, focus on removing the snow in sequence. Start with the heavy drifts to balance out the load, then move to the lighter layers.