This article comes from Angie’s List.
What goes into removing snow and ice from a roof? Is it even necessary and can I do it myself?
It takes a lot of time, effort and precaution to safely remove snow from a roof. If your roof is prone to ice dams, pros recommend removing snow at least from the roof’s overhang when 6 inches or more accumulates to avert one. An ice dam is a ridge of ice near the roof’s edge that prevents melting snow from draining into gutters.
You’ll also want to remove the snow if you have a flat roof on your home or porch. Experts say flat roofs are more vulnerable to collapse because of the accumulated weight of the snow and ice, which don’t clear as quickly as they do on a pitched roof. Otherwise, you can let the snow melt naturally.
The safest way a homeowner can remove snow from a roof is with a roof rake. You can stand on the ground and use the tool with a pole extension to reach the edge of most two-story homes. However, you should make sure the ground isn’t slippery and that you have the upper body strength to handle the rake and pull off the snow.
Roof rakes cost between $60 and $180, depending on the type you use.
Choose a roof rake with small rollers, bumpers or wheels near the blade of the rake. The wheels will keep the blade from scraping the granules off the roof shingles. The granules help the shingles resist fire and protect the roof from UV rays.
That said, removing snow from your driveway or roof is strenuous work, especially if the snow is wet and heavy. Anyone with back problems, a heart condition or other health problem that could hasten further injury should leave the job to a professional. They have the skill, equipment and proper insurance to do the job and protect you from liability.
That’s especially true when removing an ice dam. While calcium chloride tablets or heat cables can melt snow and ice around your gutter, the runoff may refreeze and create another ice dam. Also, heat cables use a lot of electricity.
Pros typically work in teams. They climb onto the roof to clear the snow away and use steam or a hammer to break and remove any ice. A good contractor will find the source of an ice dam and propose a fix. The ice dam may stem from poor attic insulation and ventilation. However, an attic bypass is the primary cause of many ice dams. Bypasses are hidden passages that allow warm air to flow into attics and melt snow on a roof, which then freezes.
Whatever you do, never get on a roof to remove snow. It’s slippery and you could fall, which could result in serious injury and even death. The pros who spoke with Angie’s lists admit that the danger involved with each job is the reason they can command anywhere from $175 to $250 an hour to remove snow from a roof.
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