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.