Should You Shovel Your Roof, And If So, When?
Over the weekend, the building we work in and broadcast from suffered some damage from a collapsed ceiling. No one was in the room where the damage took place, so we're beyond happy to report no injuries.
As you might imagine, the topic of roof-shoveling was a pretty hot one yesterday around here. Lots of questions, including when to do it, why to do it, should you do it all, and how to do it without being buried in an avalanche of snow and ice were among the many discussions.
Being old enough to clearly remember the winter of 1978-79, I recall making a bunch of money (to a high school sophomore) over that winter by going around our neighborhood with my buddies and shoveling off the roof of every neighbor who wanted it done. There was no shortage of customers.
Fast forward to today, and many people in the Rockford area (and now the rest of the country, based upon the weather activity of the last few days) are wondering whether or not they need to get their roof cleared off to avoid a collapse.
I did some extensive searching for answers about roof-shoveling, and from what I can see, most of the experts out there recommend against doing it for a variety of reasons.
A piece at Syracuse.com features advice from a professor of structural engineering and mechanics at Syracuse University, Eric Lui. Lui points out that while you may be tempted to shovel off that accumulated snow from your roof, don't do it. "It's dangerous, and you may cause more damage than the snow will."
Lui said a roof built according to state building codes should be able to withstand the weight of any snow that could accumulate on it.
Another website, SurvivalCommonSense.com, talked to the Bend, Oregon Fire Department about the need to get snow off of your roof. The Bend FD says that you should have the snow removed from your roof, but you shouldn't do it yourself. They recommend having a professional with experience in rooftop snow removal. It's not just the weight of the snow, says Bend FD:
Deep snow on a roof can bury a gas appliance flue, causing the exhaust to enter the home. This condition can introduce carbon monoxide, a colorless, odorless poisonous gas in the building.
Finally, I ended up at the Boston Globe, and their "Handyman on Call" advice column. There were a lot of words spilled on the page, but the bottom line, according to the Globe's handyman expert, is a definitive no on the subject of roof shoveling.
Never, never use a roof rake or try to shovel snow off a slanted roof. It will do no good, will not cure ice dams, is extremely hazardous, and can harm asphalt shingles, and in your case, slate shingles. And it will take away snow that is a natural insulator as long as it stays on your house.
I don't know if these bits of advice are pointing you in one direction or another, but it does seem to be quite clear that you should consult with an expert or two before venturing up on the roof to do it yourself.