The Dos & Don’ts of Rooftop Snow Removal

The City of Boston shares the best way to prevent property damage and stay safe during post-blizzard cleanup.

The True Temper 17-ft Aluminum Extendable Roof Rake; $50, Photo provided.

The True Temper 17-ft Aluminum Extendable Roof Rake; $50, Photo provided.

With post-blizzard cleanup on the mind, the City of Boston reminds us that one cubic foot of dry snow weighs about seven pounds, while a cubic foot of wet snow weighs anywhere from 12 to 18 pounds. While most roofs are designed to handle excess snow, there’s potential for structural damage, with large, flat roofs posing the greatest risk.

The city has guidelines for safe rooftop snow removal, mostly advising that you not go at it alone. Hire a professional if your roof was among the hard hit, or at the very least, venture out with a neighbor.

You can find the city’s complete guidelines here, but in short, here’s how to get rid of the snow:

  • Use a snow rake for pitched roofs (available at most hardware stores) to remove snow from your roof.
  • Start from the edge and work your way into the roof.
  • Try to shave the snow down to a 2 or 3 inches on the roof instead of scraping the roof clean, which will risk damage to your shingles or other roof covering.
  • Keep in mind that any metal tool could conduct electricity if it touches a power line. Also, metal tools will do more damage to your roof.
  • Shovel snow from flat roofs throwing the snow over the side away from the building.
  • Keep gutters, and drains clean, free of ice and snow and keep downspouts clean at ground level.
  • Unless approved by a registered professional engineer, don’t add your weight or the weight of equipment to the roof.
  • Don’t use a ladder since ice tends to build up on both the rungs of the ladder and the soles of your boots.
  • Don’t use electric heating devices like hair dryers or heat guns to remove snow and ice.
  • Don’t use open-flame devices to remove snow and ice.

Safe shoveling, Boston.

  • StephanieVanderbilt

    Great Tips! It’s also important to know how much snow your roof can handle and the prevention of ice dams. Added snow causes stress on roof rafters and improper insulation and ventilation can cause ice dams.
    To learn more about how to prevent ice dams please visit and to learn more about how much snow your roof can handle go to
    We also offer Roof Snow Removal services with a free roof inspection. Call us today to learn more 978-304-0495.

  • armyisnumber1

    I like the tip when it said NOT to go down to the shingles. Our condo association hired a professional company which must of had some quick off the street extra help with the amount of calls they received from everyone during this horrible weather. Needless to say, these non-professionals used big hatchets and axes and and stuff like that. They went all the way down THROUGH the shingles (new roof) and even took parts of the wooden roof with them (we have photos). Needless to say, most of the condos in the building are suffering water damage in the ceiling, walls, and floors which will all HAVE TO BE TOTALLY REPLACED for fear of mold and eventually having a sick home. Make sure whoever you hire is bonded and heavily insured as this company will have some major claims to fill with ZERO deductible to the condo owners. Once the thaw starts, those folks are in for even bigger problems plus rodents getting into the attic too.

  • Prism Teachings

    Don’t be found without a snow roof rake next year!

  • Prism Teachings