People often wonder if rooftop snow removal is really necessary during the winter, and what kind of problems could develop if snow is left to accumulate. The answer, of course, really depends on the amount of snow that piles up during a given winter. There are mild winters without much accumulation, and there are years when snowfall is heavy. How do you know whether or not to be concerned about rooftop snow removal – and should you do it yourself, or hire a professional?
These are important questions for homeowners who want to maximize the lifespan and performance of their roof, and their home. After all, accumulated snow puts a surprising amount of pressure on the roof. In general, ten inches of fresh snow results in about five pounds per square foot of pressure. Can the average roof handle this much pressure?
The answer is yes – on average, a residential roof can support about twenty pounds per square foot of pressure. Technically, that means that the average roof can support approximately four feet of fresh snow. More than that, and things could get complicated very quickly.
But before you plan on allowing four feet of snow to accumulate on the roof before you think about removing, there are two important things to keep in mind:
1) Not every roof has the same level of strength
2) Your roof can be damaged over time by steady pressure
There is also the matter of snowmelt to consider. When several feet of snow are piled up on your roof, warm temperatures will create an abundance of running water. As temperatures cool down again, downspouts and the areas around them can freeze. Leaks can also develop in the roof, and sharp icicles will begin to form, posing a danger to anyone standing below.
When you look at rooftop snow objectively, there are a lot of reasons to take care of the problem before it turns into something serious. The roof is among the most important aspects of your home, and it’s not worth rolling the dice with several feet of accumulated snow, which can lead to expensive repairs down the road.
Mitigating the risks
Once you decide to protect your home and tackle the problem of rooftop snow, the question is how to go about it. There are extending brushes that allow you to stand on the ground and reach up to the roof, removing a certain amount of snow – but this tends to work best when there isn’t much snow to remove in the first place. There is also the prospect of climbing up on your roof and shoveling snow. This may be feasible if you are experienced, and very comfortable up on a roof in snowy conditions – but for the most part, it’s not recommended. The safety risks are simply too great.
Rooftop snow removal specialists are not only experienced – they also use special safety equipment to minimize risks. It may be tempting to save a few bucks by doing this task yourself, but it can be frustrating and time-consuming – and if something should happen, the health costs could be far greater.
When you do decide to invest in professional rooftop snow removal, make sure you’re dealing with a contractor that is properly licensed to work on rooftops, and has all the necessary professional equipment to do a good job. Relieving pressure on the roof is a smart choice for homeowners who want to keep their property in good working order throughout the year.