We finally had our first snow fall that is going to stick around a while. I’ve had a few people ask about snow removal from their roof. There are several factors that need to be addressed before you remove snow from your roof. Thankfully, we live in an area where we don’t see many large snow falls all at once, but rather many small snow falls (typically 5”) at a time.


Is snow on your roof harmful? The fast answer is no, it’s not harmful to have snow on your roof. But there are a few other things to consider for the long drawn out answer.


  1. Do you have an older home, anything built over 20 years ago? The insulation in your home may not be as good as it once was or as current building codes dictate. Also, current building codes have a minimum of 40 lbs snow load engineered into the truss system. Older the home you have, the more likely your home does not hold these higher standards.

  2. The amount of snow that falls in the region. In South Dakota, we see a lot of small accumulations (typically 5” at a time or 30-40” for the season). If it all stayed on your roof then you could potentially see a 20lbs increase per cubic foot, so it falls within the 40lb snow load.

  3. The pitch of your roof also plays a large role in the snow accumulations. Steeper the slope, the less snow that will set on your roof. In conjunction with pitch is the material that you have, such as asphalt shingle, wood, or metal. Obviously, metal roofs are better for diverting snow, whereas the previous are more susceptible to keeping the snow around for a while.

  4. Weather patterns that changes the temperature of your roof also play a pivotal role in snow accumulations. It’s not the snow that is worrisome, but rather the ice that forms due to the snow melting. Ice dams can wreak havoc on your home, especially on low pitch older homes.

  5. How your roof is ventilated is probably the largest contributing factor in whether you should remove snow off your roof. There is a calculation to figure the correct ventilation requirements, we can certainly help with that at no charge.


Okay, you’ve decided to remove the snow off your roof. How do you do it?

  1. The tried and true get on top with a shovel is the most effective way, but also the riskiest in terms of safety. Low pitch roof you can probably get away with it, but use rope and harness so you don’t fall off.

  2. Snow rake is probably the safest way, but you really need to invest in a nice one; a rake with wheels (picture) is the best so it doesn’t damage your roof material.

  3. Heating cables are good, if they are installed properly. The key is installing properly. Cannot stress that enough. Heat cables, if installed wrong, will actually cause more damage. Here are a few things to consider about heat cables: 1) must extend past the eave slightly 2) must extend above the starting point of an ice dam, about 2 feet inside the outer wall 3) Gutters must remain clear 4) Only operate at temperatures above 30 degrees, and never below 20 degrees 5) Never run continously 6) not desgined to be in the gutter or downspout unless the manufacture states it on their packaging.

  4. Best method for getting rid of ice dams (and safest) is making salt bombs. Take an old pair of pantyhose, fill with Potassium Chloride and throw on top of the ice dam. In a few days, no more ice dam. Potassium Chloride is not harmful to vegitation, doesn’t leave salt stains, and is readily available at most hardware stores. (Ace carries Diamond Crystal Potassium Chloride Pellets for $26 for a 40 pound bag).


If you have a significant ice dam and this happens every year, you may have a greater issue that needs to be addressed. Contact us and we can meet with you to discuss remedies that will insure your roof will last for years to come! We also can remove the snow for you, contact us for rates.