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Why It's Critical to Remove the Snow From Your Roof

Problems Caused By Heavy Roof Snow

A buildup of snow on the roof can lead to serious damage. The weight of the snow might cause your roof to leak - or worse, collapse. Ideally, you should remove snow from your roof after every storm to prevent problems that can be costly and dangerous.

  • A roof leak is the most common problem associated with a buildup of snow on the roof. In many cases, roof leaks are caused by ice dams, which form when melting snow collects along your roofline and refreezes. When an ice dam gets large enough, it prevents water from running off your roof, forcing it underneath the shingles and inside your home.
  • Roof collapse is less common, but it does happen. And it is far more dangerous, potentially leading to injury or death. According to some experts, just 8 inches at snow can put a roof at risk, even if it’s in good condition.

Snow buildup is dangerous for ANY type of roof, but the risk is greater for those with flat roofs, aging roofs or manufactured homes. Keep in mind that environmental factors such as excessive rain or a warm spell can compound the problem.

Roof Roof Snow Removal

Removal Methods

Using a snow rake is the safest way to remove snow from a roof. Snow rakes are usually long enough that you can reach much or all of the roof without a ladder (using a ladder is extremely dangerous in winter conditions - see below). Some rakes extend up to 20 feet, and some have angled poles to give you better reach.

With a flat roof, sometimes it’s necessary to climb to the roof and shovel the snow. However, this is a dangerous task best left to the professionals.

DIY vs. Hiring a Professional

It’s tempting to save money by doing the snow clearing yourself. That’s perfectly OK if you have a roof rake and do not plan to use a ladder or climb on the roof. But if you have a flat roof that requires shoveling, or a tall or steep roof that can’t be completely cleared with a rake, hire a professional. Doing the job yourself is not worth the risk.

Snow removal contractors charge anywhere from abut $25 to $150 per hour, according to the Better Business Bureau. The rate depends on the amount of snow, the difficulty of the job, the pitch of your roof and your geographic location.

Here are some things to keep in mind when you’re planning to hire a contractor:

  • Always seek quotes from several contractors to compare prices, but never choose on price alone. The cheapest company is rarely the best.
  • Do some background research on companies you’re considering. How long have they been in business? How experienced are they with snow removal? Do they have good ratings with the Better Business Bureau?
  • Make sure that any company your hire has current liability insurance. Snow removal is dangerous work, and if the company is not insured you could be liable for any accidents that occur on your property.
  • Always ask for a detailed explanation of the fee structure upfront. Does the company charge by the hour? By the job? Is there a service fee just to come out? Does the service include removal of falling snow from driveways and walkways?

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