Ah, winter. The holidays are fun and all, but in many parts of the country, dealing with freezing temperatures, snow, and ice gets old fast. This time of year often brings the need for home repairs to the forefront, like furnace issues, frozen pipes, and poor insulation. And then, of course, there’s your roof.
To put it plainly, a lack of roof maintenance can turn into a major issue once the snow starts to fall. A tiny bit of fluffy snow won’t hurt your home, but even half a foot of wet snow could cause damage. Six inches of wet snow is equal, in terms of weight, to 38 inches of dry snow. Letting the white stuff build up can lead to water leaks under your shingles, ice dams, or even roof collapse.
While roof collapse is certainly the most serious problem, ice dams can be disastrous, too. When snow melts and refreezes, it has no place to go — and that’s when ice dams form. Because ice dam formations can actually lead to both water leakage and eventual roof collapse, it’s key that these issues be removed before any long-term damage occurs.
Your best bet for snow and ice removal is to hire a professional. It’s a lot safer and you won’t risk damaging your home in the process. While professional snow removal doesn’t come cheap, many homeowners find it’s worth it. You still need to be careful when hiring professionals, though. The construction industry eliminated more than 40% of its workforce between 2006 and 2011, an action that impacted contractors, roofers, and other professionals. While good roofers may be easier to come by these days, there may be bad ones looking to take advantage. More demand means more opportunities. In Pennsylvania, there have been reports that some contractors are working illegally without state registration. This means there’s no guarantee that these roofers have insurance or are even qualified to do the job. And that leads homeowners vulnerable not only to financial fraud but to safety risks. To avoid this from happening to you, you should always check your contractor’s ratings on the Better Business Bureau website, ask for proof of insurance, and do a bit of Googling to look for bad reviews.
If you’re determined to DIY, there are some affordable options. Roof rakes cost anywhere from $30 to $50 a pop and can help remove heavy snow pile-ups. However, use them with caution; with very heavy snowfall, you could be removing a substantial amount of snow and may not know where it’ll land on your property. RoofMelt tablets can help, too. Just toss some on your roof and wait for the ice to melt. However, experts caution that homeowners should refrain from getting on their roofs themselves to remove the ice and snow, and that they should never put salt on the roof to melt the ice.
Overall, if you spot any cracks in your walls, spot a lot of ice buildup on your roofs or in your gutters, or are simply dealing with the aftermath of a big storm (typically, more than six inches of snow), call in the professionals. Saving a few bucks isn’t worth putting your safety or your home’s structural integrity at risk.