Correct way of removing snow from roof

Experts say a foot of heavy snow on a 1,600 square foot house weighs as much as 14 tons, so if you can get some of the snow off, it's a good idea, but only if you can do so safely and with the right shovel.

"The shovel should be lightweight and plastic. You don't want to impregnate the roof. You don't want to create a problem when you already have one," Keith McLean of Hancock Building said.

If you have a pitched roof:

"I would say try to get the bottom three feet off. They do make rake shovels that are telescopic and you can get one at the hardware store probably," McLean said.

It's the bottom three feet where an ice dam could occur.

Now an ice dam shouldn't be a concern if your roof is less than 20 years old and has good ventilation and insulation.

But if your roof does not meet that criteria:

"The roof will melt off, but where your gutter and eve is, it's colder and it will refreeze and as it refreezes over time, the ice has nowhere to go," McLean said.

If you have an ice dam, you need to call a professional.

"Someone who's licensed, has worker's comp and liability because it's going to be tricky, you're going to have someone on your property, you want to make sure they're properly insured as well," McLean said.

One more thing, if you need a ladder to clear your roof, take the proper precautions.

"You want to make sure the scags are in a good position whether they're extended or flat," McLean said.

The scags should be pointed down if they're in snow or dirt.

The right angle is critical, too.

"For every four feet you go up a wall, you want to be a foot out," McLean said.

If you're using a step ladder, make sure it's locked and never stand on the very top step.

In fact, some have stickers that warn against standing even on the second to the top step.
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