Safely Remove Snow From Your Roof

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  • 1-2 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 0-100
What You'll Need
Snow shovel
Winter clothing
Push broom
Rock salt
A snow jacket and warm gloves
Slip-resistant snow boots
Snow cutter

Roof snow removal can be necessary when you experience a heavy snowstorm, or have several smaller snowstorms in a row. Too much snow piled up on a roof can cause it to bow or cave in, resulting in serious home damage. Cleaning the roof snow can be quite dangerous, though. Safety should always come first, and when possible, tag-teaming a roof snow removal DIY is always a good idea.

A heavy, saturated snow is especially tough on a roof, and in a worst case scenario can cause thousands of dollars in damage, as well as wrecking irreplaceable items like antiques or family photos. You don't just have to worry about a cave-in and flooding your home, though. If the snow on your roof doesn't cave in, it can still damage the roof while melting. The resulting water can cause severe warping or rotting of roofs, ceilings, and other building elements.

To avoid a collapsed roof or water damage in your home, here are some guidelines for effectively removing snow from your rooftop.

Rake Snow off the Roof From the Ground

man rakes snow off of a roof

Gear up with a warm jacket, gloves, and spiked shoes. Pick up your trusty roof rake, which you can make yourself if you'd like, and add an extender to it if needed. Stand away from the roof at a safe distance to avoid getting blanketed by the snow you remove. Place the rake on the roof and pull it by moving from as far away as possible.

As you pull, the snow will slide off the roof. Make sure there's no one else standing underneath the roof as you clear, especially young children. Though playing in extra big piles of snow may seem like fun, they (and/or you) should wait until all the snow to start building forts.

Push Snow Off From the Roof

If you see some spots that still need clearing, climb onto the roof with a secured ladder and use a scoop shovel with a long handle to push the roof snow off. If you don't have stable ground from which to climb, get someone else to anchor the ladder and spot you as you go up. If the task runs long, you can trade off with whomever holds the ladder when you need a break.

The easiest approach is to start with the snow close to the top, and push toward the bottom, just keep your safety at the forefront. Clambering through ice and snow far above the ground can obviously be dangerous.

Leave a Thin Coat of Snow

Leave a thin coat of snow on the roof to protect your roof surface from damage. Though it may seem a little counterintuitive, this practice will keep you from having to replace hundreds of shingles in the spring. You won't be able to see fully see the roof, so just use your best judgment when leaving a snow coat.

shoveling snow off a roof

Break Apart Chunks and Clear Your Gutters

For removing deep crusts, icy or heavy snow, you can use a snow cutter, a specialized tool that can breakup tougher chunks.

Be sure to check your gutters and your rain spouts as well. Snow pileups here can be just as damaging to your home.

Use a Roof Razor

A roof razor’s double cutting surface can be a nifty hack for this operation. It finely removes the snow from the roof, leaving behind the thin layer of snow that protects the roof from snow damage.

Work in Stages

A job like this can be a big task to take on. If there's no heavy snow in the forecast, consider approaching the job one small section at a time—it'll be much easier than removing the entire snow load from the roof. Once it's all on the ground, you might want to shovel the piles away from your house to minimize any freezing or melting damage.

After it's all said and done, head inside and warm up in the sweetest way possible thanks to these hot cocoa hacks.