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Winter is that time of the year when most homeowners face the impact of extreme weather conditions. For instance, when the snow starts piling on your roof, you’ll need an effective way to remove it to avoid structural damage. So, is it necessary to rake your roof?
Roof raking is necessary if the snow build-up is above 6 inches (15 centimeters) or you have a flat roof. However, in some instances, you can also rake a pitched roof. If done properly, roof raking minimizes the risks of roof damage or collapse.
There are contrasting opinions about the necessity of roof raking. The rest of this article will discuss a few issues related to this subject in detail. So, read on to learn everything you need to know about roof raking.
What Is Roof Raking?
Roof raking entails removing snow from a roof using a snow rake. The rake is mounted on a long pole. Raking minimizes the snow load on roofs. However, improper roof raking can cause roof damage.
Many roofing experts recommend roof raking, as it reduces the risks of roof damage. When the snow starts accumulating on your roof, it can get to a height of 6 inches (15 centimeters) or more. Wet snow weighs about 20 pounds (320 kilograms ) or more per cubic foot meter, meaning your roof will be overloaded.
Moreover, the snow can form ice dams, which comprise ice ridges on the roof edges. An ice dam occurs due to uneven roof surface temperatures and hinders snow from melting and draining off the roof. Consequently, this water can seep through the roof shingles and cause structural problems or mold growth.
When Should You Rake Your Roof?
You should rake your roof whenever snow accumulates and after a heavy snowstorm. If you have a pitched roof, rake it if the snow is more than 6 inches (15 centimeters) deep.
It is necessary to rake your roof in most cases. The procedure minimizes snow build-up and prevents roof damage or collapse. But, sometimes, it is unnecessary to rake your roof.
No one wishes for roof damage, especially in winter. Roof repairs during this season are complicated and way too expensive. Therefore, it’s vital to prevent structural damage by minimizing snow build-up.
Let’s take a deeper look at instances when roof raking is necessary:
- When snow accumulates on flat roofs: Flat roofs are more prone to snow accumulation than pitched roofs since melted snow can’t flow easily. A load of wet snow can get to over 20 lbs ( 9.07 kg) in weight, with a cubic foot weighing 12 to18 lbs (5.44 – 8.1 6kg). Therefore, it’s crucial to avoid snow build-up through roof raking.
- After a heavy snowstorm: Snowstorms are a nuisance, as they accelerate the build-up of wet and heavy snow. Hence, if you notice that your roof has a large volume of wet snow, you can rake the upper layers to reduce the snow weight. Moreover, it’s also recommendable to remove the snow if your region experiences regular snow drifts due to strong winds.
- When snow on pitched roofs is over 6 inches (15 centimeters) deep: Although pitched roofs are less likely to have large snow loads, some winter seasons may be more extreme than others. Hence, if you notice that the snow pile on your roof exceeds 6 inches (15 centimeters), roof raking is necessary.
- To prevent ice dam formation: As we’ve noted earlier, ice dams form when there are varying temperatures on the roof surface. A wet snow cover can cause some areas to have lower temperatures than others. Therefore, roof raking minimizes this snow load, reducing the chances of ice dam formation. Nonetheless, it is also vital to have effective roof insulation to prevent heat loss.
Although roof raking is effective in removing snow from roofs, it could cause more harm than good in the following scenarios:
- When using inappropriate tools – Snow rakes are the recommended equipment for removing snow from rooftops. If you use a tool with sharp metal blades, it will damage the roof shingles. So, it’s preferable to have a roof rake whose blades don’t reach the roof surface. Moreover, some rakes have rollers with PVC wheels that compress the bottom snow layer, protecting the hinges.
- When the roof has loose components – If your roof has loose shingles or flashings, roof raking will aggravate the damage. Hence, it’s crucial to inspect your roof before the onset of winter and repair (or replace) necessary components. Besides, it’s difficult or almost impossible to repair your roof during winter.
- When roof raking incorrectly – Most homeowners remove snow up to the roof surface. However, you could accidentally damage the shingles by removing the protective asphalt granules from the roof. Moreover, some people argue that it’s preferable to have a light layer of snow on your roof for insulation and the prevention of ice dam formation.
- When the weather allows – If your region doesn’t receive heavy snowfall and the snow build-up doesn’t get to 6 inches (15cm), roof raking is unnecessary. Also, if there are chances of warm episodes, you don’t have to remove it. So, it’s advisable to be up-to-date with your area’s weather forecast.
Additionally, it is not recommendable to only remove snow on some areas, as this will contribute to uneven roof surface temperatures. So, if you’re unsure of whether to rake your roof or how to do it, seek professional advice.
How Should You Rake Your Roof?
The best way to rake your roof is by moving the snow rake carefully from the edge of your roof. Therefore, you should be keen not to cause any damage to the shingles. Moreover, use a good roof rake that suits your roof design.
Here are a few tips on how to rake your roof properly:
- Use the right type of rake for your roof and gutters.
- Avoid using a ladder to climb your roof – roof rake from the ground to avoid injury.
- Start raking from the edges and work your way to the top.
- Remove snow build-up on the gutters, drains, and vents – but avoid roof raking on the skylights.
- Watch out for power lines – especially if using a roof rake with an aluminum handle.
- Call a professional roofer to help with removing snow from your roof.
Roof raking is a tedious task that involves removing snow from rooftops. If done correctly, it lowers the chances of ice dam formation and roof damage. However, improper roof raking can cause more harm than good.