With 2 feet of snowfall occurring in the metro area of Minnesota you need to make sure you stay on top of the accumulation of snow on your roof. Take the collapsing of Mall of America Field as a sign that snow accumulation on a roof is not a good thing. Snow accumulation on your roof isn’t going to collapse your roof but it can cause damage.
The biggest issue with snow accumulation on a roof is the forming of ice dams.
Ice dams occur when heat from your home melts the snow that is in direct contact with the roof surface. This melted snow then re-freezes and builds up an ice dam, normally at the gutter. As time goes by and water continues to feed the dam, the ice dam grows. If you have icicles forming, that is usually an indication that a dam may be forming.
The problem that arises due to ice dams is that the water that is backing up at the ice dam can find its way into your home. The water finds cracks and openings in the roof and makes its way into your attic space. From there it will make its way down walls or through ceilings. It can cause major water damage in your home.
To avoid having an ice form on your home use a roof rake to pull snow from the roof. A roof rake is essentially a really shovel that is turned on its side so that you can pull snow from the roof surface. When removing the snow you don’t need to worry about clearing the whole roof. All that you need to remove is 2-3 feet of snow from the roofs edge. The first couple feet of roof is where the dam forms and you need to keep this area free of snow to avoid having the water accumulate here.
The are a number of different roof rake options out there to purchase. The models that we carry are all around the same price (around $50-$55). A new unique version is the Avalanche snow rake. It slides under the snow allowing the snow to slide off the surface of the roof. There are also different length options so be sure to look at what length you need. If you have a really tall roof and need to extend your rake make sure you buy one that has that option. A five foot extension runs about $10.
If you have an ice dam already formed do not attempt to chip or pull the ice up with your roof rake. They are meant to pull down snow only and they will break if you attempt to use them as an ice chipper. Remove the snow on top of the dam and as much as you can reach behind the already formed dam. As a last resort use a product such as Roof Melt ice dam remover. Roof Melt is a large pellet of ice melt. It is magnesium based so it doesn’t harm the surface as much as a sodium based product. I can’t say for sure that it doesn’t harm the shingles but I’d rather replace shingles then have to deal with gutting a room due to water damage.
If you have an issue with ice dams on your home you should strongly consider installing roof and gutter heat cables on your roof. Once installed, the heat cables can be plugged in anytime to melt an ice dam from your roof and/or gutters. They also can be placed on a thermostat that activates the cable at a certain temperature. It’s something that needs to be installed before there is snow and ice on the roof. We have dozens of customers (and this year hundreds of customers) that come in every year for ice dam issues. We always recommend the roof cables and hardly anyone remembers to come back and buy the cables in the summer or fall. I would recommend buying the cables now while it’s on your mind. If you have them on hand you’ll be much more likely to remember to install them in the warmer months. Cables can be purchased that are between 60′ and 120′.
For more info on roof rakes and ice dams check out the blog
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