How to Remove Snow from Roof Tops

House roof with ice dams.

Winter can come with snow storms that can pile up snow and ice everywhere you look. One place where snow can cause the most damage is on the roof of your home. If you have snow accumulated on your roof, it can lead to many problems. Here is what you need to know about how to remove snow from roof tops.

Snow is light and fluffy as it comes down, but it is heavy when it compacts on roofs. While a single snow fall or even a few days of snow can add up to a foot or more on your roof, it is unlikely to do damage. It is when the snow melts and refreezes that compacting occurs. This can lead to roof damage, which can include:

  • Ice dams – ice at the edges of the roof that keeps snow and ice from melting into the gutters
  • Damage to roofing that causes leaks into your home
  • Bowing of the roof structure
  • Roof collapsing from excessive weight from snow and ice

Replacing a roof is very expensive and leaks can cause even more damage to your home. Knowing how to safely remove snow from roof tops can protect your home, garage and other structures on your property.

How to Remove Snow from Peaked Roofs

The most common type of roof, especially in regions that have cold winters, is the peaked roof. A peaked roof allows snow and rain to clear naturally from the roof and melt into the gutters. However, with enough snow, you may need to know how to remove snow from roof surfaces to prevent damage.

The first consideration with roof snow removal is safety. You need to know how to safely remove snow from your roof, preventing injuries to yourself and damage to the structure. For peaked roofs, use the following guidelines for safe snow removal.

Stay on the Ground
The first safety rule with snow removal for peaked roofs is to not attempt to climb on the roof or a ladder. The slippery conditions are unsafe, and you put yourself at risk. All snow removal should be performed from ground level or by a professional.
Use a Snow Rake
For most homes and peaked-roof structures, a snow rake is the preferred method of snow removal. This tool allows you to safely remove snow while staying on the ground. There are extension tools to reach two-story roofs, but any higher than two stories may require professional removal.
Avoid Roof Damage
You want to use a snow rake and tools that will not damage your shingles or roofing, usually one with small wheels or protection for the roof material. You also want to use the right technique, clearing from the edges up to the peak. Do not try to remove more than a foot at a time to avoid packing the snow.

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How to Remove Snow from a Flat Roof

Flat roofs are popular in warmer regions and for commercial buildings. You will not find many flat roof homes in colder regions, as snow removal will be a constant problem. While it is safer to get on a flat roof to remove the snow, you would need to do it every time there was significant snow.

If you need to know how to remove snow from a flat roof, you will need to start with the right tools. You may need a shovel and a snow rake or broom before you get started. Some roofs could also benefit from de-icing spray once the snow is removed. Follow these steps:

  • Make sure the area around the building is free from foot traffic or items that can be damaged by snow coming off the roof.
  • Carefully access the roof and bring your shovel, rake/broom and de-icing spray with you.
  • Shovel the snow off the roof, carefully avoiding contacting the roof material with the shovel.
  • Use a snow rake or broom to brush on the last inches of snow.
  • Spray the roof with de-icing chemicals – make sure the product is safe for your roof material.

You may need to remove snow from flat roof structures multiple times during the winter. It can be worthwhile to hire a professional service to maintain the roof to avoid injuries or damage to the building.
A residential hose with a snow cap on the roof.
It is important to note that there are chemical de-icing products sold for roofs. You want to be careful when using these products to ensure they will not damage your shingles, concrete or other materials.

Now you know how to remove snow from roof tops, but the safest and easiest option is to hire a professional. Check with your local landscaping companies – many may offer roof snow removal during the winter as one of their landscaping services. This can save you the trouble and risk of trying to remove snow yourself, especially if you do not have the tools needed to do it safely.