Thawing Ice Dams & Snow Covered Roofs = Potential Damage!

» Posted by on Mar 5, 2015 in Blog, Featured, News | 0 comments

how to prevent snow damage

Icy gutters and snow packed high on roofs that are slowly starting to thaw…whats next? Warming temps create disaster if followed by a freeze! Do not break the ice from the gutters when solid. An old method that I myself have used to help with the thawing – add salt to panty hose then lay it across the back of the gutter closest to the roof shingles to assist the thawing and create space. After separating the two (gutter from roof shingles), move the panty hose to the top of the gutter to thaw downward. When you feel the ice is soft enough slowly break apart without adding force to the hangers or gutter. IF it breaks loose go ahead and remove it but if it doesn’t STOP and let it thaw on its own. You already broke the ice dam apart (roof from gutter) which is most important. If snow remains on the roof it will potentially fill the gap again so you may want top have that removed by a professional first? As I’m sure you already know – if you do not climb roofs regularly, do not attempt any of this on your own, it can be a hazard.

To safely remove snow from roofs, the Office of the Governor, RIEMA, HEALTH and OSHA recommend the following tips:

Tips for Residents:

•Hire a professional. Licensed and insured roof contractors are the best source of professional snow removers.

• For roof snow removal, use a snow rake with a long extension arm that will allow you to remove the snow while standing on the ground. Snow rakes are available at most hardware stores.

• Don’t use a roof rake while on a ladder and don’t attempt to scale your roof to remove snow.

• If you must use a ladder, make certain that the base is securely anchored.

• Roof drainage systems should be kept clear to minimize the risk of future roof ponding in the event of subsequent heavy snow melting. This is especially important for flat roofs.

• Make certain not to contact electrical wires.

• Don’t attempt to clear snow from your roof during periods of strong winds.

• Snow removal equipment meant for pavement should never be used on the roof since they can damage the roof cover system.

• When using products, such as ROOFMELT, read all manufacturer’s warnings and product safety information carefully. These products can be harmful to skin and eyes if used incorrectly.

• “When in doubt, stay out, and evaluate” *If you feel that your roof is in danger of collapsing, get out of your house and contact your local building commissioner or a roof contractor.

Tips from OSHA for Businesses:

• When possible, use snow removal methods that do not involve workers going on roofs.

• Evaluate loads exerted on the roof or structure (e.g., total weight of snow, workers and equipment used), compared to the load limit of the roof.

• Require that workers use fall-protection equipment.

• Ensure that workers use ladders and aerial lifts safely.

• OSHA standards require employers to evaluate hazards and protect workers from falls when working at heights of four feet or more above a lower level or 6 feet or more for construction work.

• For more detailed information on safely removing snow from rooftops and other elevated surfaces, please see information available at:

How to Recognize Signs of a Potential Roof Collapse:

• Sagging roofs

• Severe roof leaks

• Cracked or split wood members

• Bends or ripples in supports

• Cracks in walls or masonry

• Sheared off screws from steel frames

• Sprinkler heads that have dropped down below ceiling tiles

• Doors that pop open

• Doors or windows that are difficult to open

• Bowed utility pipes or conduit attached at ceiling

• Creaking, cracking or popping sounds.

In addition, remember to shovel out nearby fire hydrants and storm drains and please offer to assist elderly family and neighbors with shoveling and snow removal. The elderly or those with functional needs seeking assistance with shoveling should contact Serve Rhode Island at (401) 331-2298. Please note that Serve RI will not assist with removing snow from roofs.

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