How to Safely Shovel Snow off Your Roof and Prevent Ice Dam Buildup

How to Safely Shovel Snow off Your Roof and Prevent Ice Dam Buildup

Winter in New England brings with it the beauty of a snow-covered landscape, but it also brings challenges for New Hampshire homeowners. One such challenge is dealing with snow on your roof, as well as the formation of ice dams. Here’s a guide on how to safely shovel snow off your roof, prevent ice dam buildup, and remove ice dams.

Safely Shoveling Snow off Your Roof

Shoveling snow off your roof can be a daunting task, but it’s necessary to prevent damage to your home. Here are some tips to do it safely:

  1. Stay on the ground: Climbing onto your roof or a ladder can result in dangerous slips and falls. Use a tool such as a roof rake to pull the snow down.
  1. Plan ahead: The best way to survive shoveling your roof is to never actually have to shovel your roof. Adding de-icing cable to your gutters or the edges of your roof system can help prevent ice dams and encourage the snow on your roof to melt and slide off on its own.
  1. Use a snow rake: If you have a pitched roof, climbing up there is never a good idea, especially in icy conditions. A snow rake can help you remove the snow without having to climb.

Preventing Ice Dam Buildup

Ice dams form when snow melts on an upper, warmer part of a roof, then flows down to the colder eave overhang, where it refreezes. Here are some ways to prevent ice dam buildup:

  1. Ventilation: Keeping colder outside air circulating through the attic prevents it from warming above the freezing point so it can’t melt snow on the roof.
  1. Insulation: Insulating the ceiling below the attic will prevent warm air from rising up into the attic space to melt snow on the roof.
  1. Use heated cables: Attached with clips along the roof’s edge in a zigzag pattern, heated cables help prevent ice dams that lift shingles and cause leaks.

Removing Ice Dams

If an ice dam has already formed on your roof, here are some ways to remove it safely:

  1. Blow in cold air: Take a box fan into the attic and aim it at the underside of the roof where water is actively leaking in. This targeted dose of cold air will freeze the water in its tracks.
  1. Rake it: Pull off snow with a long-handled aluminum roof rake while you stand safely on the ground.
  1. De-icing methods: Fill the leg of a discarded pair of pantyhose with a calcium chloride ice melter. Lay the hose onto the roof so it crosses the ice dam and overhangs the gutter.

Remember, safety should always be your priority when dealing with snow and ice dam removal on your roof. If you’re unsure or uncomfortable performing these tasks yourself, consider hiring a professional.