For lazy children, winter snow means snowball fights, snowmen and snow days. For lazy homeowners, it can mean leaky roofs and costly repairs. Fortunately, where snowy roofs are concerned, a little bit of preventative maintenance can go a long way.
As you're probably already well aware, the best remedy for a snowy roof is a roof rake. Being a highly specialized tool, however, we thought you could do with a guide. Below, you'll find a list of best practices.
- For goodness' sake, stay off of your roof. Ice, snow and inclined planes are a bad mix.
- Avoid chopping motions. If you're overly forceful, you may wind up doing direct damage to your roof.
Step 1 Roof a long way from the ground? Buy a second rake.
Buying more than one kit allows you to assemble two kits together to make a snow rake that is extra long.
Here you have to be careful. Since you are now exceeding the design specification of the rake, you must handle your snow rake very carefully being sure not to stress it or flex it too much.
Step 2 Build a path around your house.
One half hour of building paths through the snow so that you can walk on top of it will save you lots of trudging through deep snow and falling into holes....
How do I build a path? I walk through the snow taking little tiny baby steps retracing my steps many times. I walk forwards. I walk sideways. I cover the same ground over and over again. The idea is to create a flat surface that you can walk on as easily as you would walk on a narrow sidewalk.
Your paths through the snow will support your weight if you will follow this simple rule: Whenever you step into a hole, fill that hole with snow until it is as solid and flat as the rest of your sidewalk made out of snow. It's so much easier to work the snow rake when you have a sidewalk to walk on that you've built yourself.
Step 3 Take care of the easy stuff first.
Since the whole point of snow-raking is to remove weight off the roof so that it does not collapse under the weight, you might as well go after the easy stuff first.
I do the easy stuff first and then if I have the time and energy, I go after the hard stuff that is higher up.
Step 4 Remember that it'll be harder to move the snow once it's fallen.
It's at least 3 times as hard moving the snow once it hits the ground versus making it fall off the roof with the snow rake.
Snow falls easily off the roof because you have a fall line working in your favor. Once it hits the ground, you have to pick it up and throw it with a shovel.
Step 5 Leave a protective layer of snow on your roof.
Remember! You don't have to get all the snow. Just the excess that threatens the load-bearing capacity of the roof.
It helps to leave the bottom-most layer of snow on the roof as this protects the shingles from damage by the snow rake.
Step 6 Rake a little each day.
If you do a little bit each day, you won't have to worry about it accumulating. Generally speaking, it is not any one storm that will collapse a roof. It is a series of storms -- each building on the next.
For additional snow raking advice, see Ed Abbott's How to Rake Snow Off Your Roof.