This blog was originally published on October 30, 2017, but was updated in November of 2020.
Albertan homeowners are no strangers to snow settling on their roofs in the wintertime. While a light dusting doesn’t usually pose much of a problem, roofing companies regularly see the damage that can be caused by allowing too much snow to pile up on a roof at once. Not only can excessive snow buildup cause property damage, but it might result in personal injury as well. The roofers at A. Clark Roofing & Siding in Edmonton and Calgary are here to let you know about all of the numerous benefits of roof snow removal and how to do it right, to protect your home this winter.
Potential problems caused by excessive snow buildup
Why do I need to get the snow removed? There are two main problems that snow buildup can create – ice dams, creating leaks in your home, and the heavyweight of snow, which can cause a roof collapse.
Especially in Alberta, with our cold temperatures and warm chinooks thawing the snow out, one of the main problems that might result from allowing too much snow to accumulate on your roof is the formation of ice dams. Ice dams occur when a blockage of ice on the edge of a roof prevents meltwater from draining away. The water then backs up and can end up causing roof leaks that require professional roof repair. Ice dams can occur with very little snow if there is any block in drainage, as water freezes over time to slowly dam and create major problems for your home.
Another issue is that snow is heavy. When enough of it piles up on a roof, it can cause the roof to sag and, if the roof is not in good condition, possibly even to collapse. This weight also pulls away from your gutters if ice and snow sit on them year after year. On top of causing damage to your roof, heavy snow can also result in personal injury if it unexpectedly breaks away and falls on someone passing by underneath. The snow that doesn’t fall off and continues to build can eventually pile up high enough to block vents and chimneys, increasing the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, ice damming, and condensation in your attic space. Keep the pitch of your roof in mind when considering snow pileup – a flatter roof will hold more snow and large snowdrifts will create undue stress on flatter areas of your roof.
How much snow is too much?
Keep an eye on the following parts of your home and stay aware of potential snow damage. Since we live in Alberta, we can get very large quantities of snow in a very short amount of time, so it’s important to be conscious of potential signs that you need to remove snow from your roof.
Formation of ice dams
If you have ice forming on the ridge of your roof, this is preventing melting snow from draining off, which can lead to even larger pile-ups of snow. The water that backs up can leak into your home and cause serious damage.
Blocked roof vents
If you can no longer see your vents and they are covered with snow, the vent may be blocked and your home may not be venting properly.
Piling of snow
If the snow is piled higher than 30 cm, this can be a cause for concern. However, it can be tricky to go by snow pileup alone. A smaller quantity of heavy, wet snow can do a lot more damage to your home than a lot more light, fluffy snow. Keep an eye out for areas of your roof that may pile more snow, such as where the roof meets a wall, or any valleys where two sloped roofs meet.
Keep in mind when assessing the snow on your roof that these problem areas will have significantly more snow pileup.
Doors or windows
For a quick test of the stress on your roof, test the doors and windows in your home. If they start to become difficult to open/shut or stick, this can be a clue that there is too much weight on the structure of the home and is impacting the door or window frame.
Drywall or plaster
Check the drywall or plaster around interior doors, especially those leading to second-story rooms. If there are cracks, this can also indicate too much weight on your house.
The benefits of professional roof snow removal
Roof snow removal is a tricky process best left up to the professionals. Professional roofers have the right tools and techniques to remove snow in a manner that is both safe and efficient. Trying to remove the snow yourself can be risky and might result in damage to your roof and your property. If you need to get on a ladder to remove the snow, leave it to a professional. Hiring roofing experts for the job will give you peace of mind that the job is being done right, and protect you from serious harm.
Do-it-yourself roof snow removal
If you’re able to work safely on the ground (no ladders), and have the proper tools, you may be able to remove excess snow yourself throughout the season. It is still recommended to utilize professionals to clear your entire roof if you notice any of the possible indicators of snow damage mentioned above, or if you notice heavy snow or ice damming occurs.
For tools, look for long-handle snow rakes to remove freshly-fallen snow, but be careful to purchase a model with rollers, to ensure you are not damaging your roof in the process. When raking, stay on the level ground surface and rake to remove snow from overhangs where buildup may occur. Rake as high as you can while staying on the level surface, pulling the snow off your roof.
Other effective tools on the market work by sliding between the snow and your roof and pulling them out to remove the snow. When using these, keep in mind the same safety precautions mentioned above for raking – stay on a level part of the ground (no snow mounds, icy patches, or standing on a ladder or other surface).
If you do remove the snow yourself, be sure to keep in mind the quantity and direction the snow will be coming off your roof – falling snow can cause injury if it falls on you or anyone nearby. Also remember to leave some snow on your roof and keep your tools from scraping, scratching and tearing the roofing materials.
Edmonton and Calgary roofers providing roof snow removal
Professional roof snow removal provided by trusted Edmonton and Calgary roofing companies is one of the best precautions you can take against ice dams, roof damage, and injury caused by excessive snow buildup in the winter. At A. Clark Roofing & Siding LP., our Edmonton and Calgary roofing contractors provide snow removal services for Albertan homeowners. We’ll also provide you with advice on how to stop snow and ice buildup in the future.
Once the roofing contractors are finished clearing your roof, they can also let you know if your roof was damaged by the snow and is in need of repairs.
If you ever notice an excessive buildup of snow on your roof this winter, then don’t wait to contact the roofing contractors at A. Clark Roofing & Siding LP.