Winterizing Your Roof

It is no secret that rain, snow and frigid weather really take their toll on your roof. It’s a crucial habit to inspect your roof every spring and fall if you want to make sure your roof is working its best to defend against Chicago’s brutal winter months.  If you skipped your roof inspection this past fall, and find your roof covered in three feet of snow from our last lake-effect storm, there are a few things you can do to give you enough peace of mind until spring, and shake any concerns of being buried alive.

using roof rakeRoof snow removal becomes necessary when it snows heavily. The weight of excessive snow-falls and ice build-up can take a toll on an unprepared roof, including flooding and caving.  Throw in strong winds and substantial rain, and the situation can get out of control.  Water from melting snow and ice can seep into your home and ruin ceilings, insulation, walls, and electrical work. The water from melting snow can further warp and rot roofs.  To avoid these dangers and expensive damage, clearing the roof of most of the snow is necessary.  Although it is not considered traditional winter fun, the effort will save you time, money, and energy in the future.  Enlist a willing partner; someone to help steady your ladder and take turns clearing the snow, as it can be tiring.  Wear a warm jacket, gloves, and spiked shoes, if you have them.  Finally, try to remove the snow in small sections every day; it will be much easier than trying to remove the entire load from your roof.

The easiest way to remove powder-like snow is with a roof rake.  You can purchase a roof snow rake at your local hardware store but making one is easy and will cost less than purchasing a commercial roof snow rake.  You will need the following materials:

roof rake

Aluminum pole (17 feet)
C clamp (1)
4-inch angled brackets (2)
Metal plate, 1/8-inch thick and 6 1/2-inches by 22-inches
Lock washers and nuts
2 1/2-inch bolts (3)
Crescent wrench

clampbracketAn aluminum pole is the basis for your roof snow rake.  With the clamp, attach the two brackets to one of the ends of the aluminum pole with one on each side. Make sure the holes on the brackets are in line, and that the brackets are angled at 90 degrees. The end result will look like a “T” with the pole as the base. Drill a hole in the aluminum pole using the bracket holes as a guide. The angled brackets will have three holes in each bracket for you to drill.

Attach the metal plate to the pole by inserting the bolts through the drilled holes, and use the washers and nuts to attach them to the aluminum pole. Tighten them by using the pliers and the crescent wrench.  When the brackets feel firmly attached, you can remove the clamp.

Next, attach the metal plate to the aluminum pole. This metal plate is what you will be using to remove snow from your roof. Center the metal plate on the angled brackets. The brackets should be parallel with the bottom and the top of the metal plate. Mark the hole positions with a permanent marker, and drill through the metal plate. Use a steady motion and firm pressure to make the bit go through the metal. Attach the metal plate. Line the holes of the plate up with the holes on the angled brackets. Use the nuts and bolts to firmly attach it. Tighten them with the crescent wrench and pliers.  You’re ready to try your new tool.  Rakers, take your positions!

Stand away from the roof at a safe distance in order to avoid a face full of falling snow. Add an extender to your pole, if you need to.  Place the rake on the roof and pull it down, and away from yourself.  After pulling, the snow will slide off the roof. Believe it or not, you will want to leave a thin coat of snow on the roof to protect your roof surface from damage.

snow cutterIf snow has had a chance to settle, or freeze, consider a snow cutter.  This is best for removing deep crusts, icy or heavy snow. It is also effective at removing small sections of snow. You can also use a roof razor as an alternative to a snow cutter. A roof razor’s double cutting surface finely removes the snow from the roof, leaving behind a thin layer of snow that protects the roof from getting damaged. You have to push the head of the razor and pull down the snow to the ground.

If this job seems too daunting to do alone, don’t hesitate to call HandiCo. Whether you do the job yourself, or seek professional help, consider the four main roof concerns: leaky gutters, excessive debris, attic ventilation, and flashing (think of the acronym L.E.A.F.) If these four areas are taken care of in advance, chances are that you will have successfully winterized your roofing system. Bring on the snow!  Check back next week for more roof tips!

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