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Roof Rakes - Snow Removal and Ice Damming Prevention Rake

Updated on August 16, 2014

The coming of winter heralds the coming of snow which is great for the kiddies but not so great for the homeowner. For those of us who live in area which receive high volumes of powder, that means protecting our homes from potential damage and excessive wear and tear by fighting back against the winter elements using tools like roof rakes, snow blowers etc.

Snow roof rakes are one of the tools in our arsenal in this war, and they are essential for removing snow from a roof safely with the minimum of fuss. Packed snow can become extremely heavy which can damage roof tiles and shingles, cause beams to split and crack, and in the worse cases, may cause the roof to collapse inwards. Removing roof snow and ice build up will also prevent ice dams which build up on the edge and cause melting ice to leak back under the eaves and can cause damage to your walls, ceiling and insulation inside your home.

Snow removing rakes are something which often sell out fast in the local area when winter closes in so you are typically well advised to buy early or risk having to join a waiting list or pay over the asking price later on. The internet can be your savior here as many online stores will have them in stock and for sale online even when your town’s hardware store shelves have been stripped bare. This page features some great roof snow removing products you can buy online from reputable retailers.

Wheeled Snow Roof Rakes On Wheels

If you have to choose between one type and another, then opt for a rolling snow roof rake on wheels. Why? Simply because these are much easier to use and because they roll rather than scrape they are more gentle towards your tiles and shingles. Those without wheels, or some other protective system, scrape across the shingles, dragging and chopping rather than rolling smoothly and may damage or dislodge your tiles which is definitely not something you want to happen. Removing roof snow build up isn’t rocket science and the technology doesn’t alter much from one brand to the next, but a smart choice is definitely to find a roof rake with rollers to prevent any potential damage.

Wheeled roof rakes raise the blade up a little so that it can not damage your tiles, leaving a thin layer of snow and ice behind rather than hacking away down to the tiles. The rolling wheels make it easier to move along as well which is a bonus. There are several manufacturers who have snow rakes with wheels including the Garelick rake above.

Telescoping Or Snap Together Extendable Roof Rakes

You want to be able to reach the high points without having to climb up there yourself, particularly in the slippery conditions which accompany winter time. That said, you also don’t want to have to store an extra long roof rake throughout the rest of the year because not all of us have room for a 25ft pole in our homes! That’s why these always come in one of two forms; telescoping and extendable roof rakes which screw together from multiple parts to provide the extra length.

The telescopic kind feature a telescoping handle shaft which extends out like an old car arial. The other kind features multiple parts which either snap, bolt or screw together to form a long pole capable of extending 20 - 30ft in the air. The typical length is around 20 ft in length but many also offer the option to add pole extensions to lengthen the reach to 25ft or higher if your need them to be longer. Remember of course, that as the length of the pole increases, the more unweildy it becomes so you don't want to overdo it.

Lightweight Aluminum Roof Rakes Vs Plastic Snow Rakes or Other Materials

One of the things you do have to consider when buying a roof snow clearing rake is the weight of it, after all, you are going to be lifting and dragging this over your head. A lightweight roof rake is essential to keeping an otherwise backbreaking job more manageable and much less of a hassle. For this reason, most house roof brooms are made from lightweight materials like plastic and aluminum, with hollow poles and the minimum of extra weight where possible.

Durable aluminum roof rakes are recommended where possible as metal is always a more hard wearing, heavy duty material which is more likely to bend rather than snap off and break like plastic if pushed past its limits. Aluminum snow removal rakes are light, portable and heavy duty whilst retaining their lightweight features and are recommended over all the other types of material out there.

What Are Ice Dams and How To Prevent Ice Dams From Damaging Your Home

Roof ice dams form along the edges usually wherever there are air leaks and poor insulation but in the worst weather, may form even if it is well insulated. They are basically a build up of ice which prevents melting snow water from running off a pitched roof in the natural way giving it no option but to find another escape route. Typically, this leads to it seeping back under your eaves and damaging insulation, soaking the wooden structural beams, running down walls and dripping through your ceiling. Ice dams can lead to damp, mold and mildew and are generally best avoided by using one of the many options out there.

Those options include snow removing roof rakes which pull snow down from the roof and break up ice dams before they can become a problem. These are great but do require some manual physical labor in often freezing temperatures which is not going to be to everyone’s taste.

An alternative, is to opt for heated ice melting cables which are installed during better weather (typically) and when activated will heat up to melt snow and ice from guttering and roof tops. Ice melt cables mean no running around waving a rake around in freezing temperatures but do mean you will have to climb up there to install them at some point which again, is not something everyone is going to be comfortable doing.

What Is Snow Loading and How To Remove Snow Load From A Roof

Snow loading is the term used to describe how snow accumulates on something like a roof. How much snow can a roof hold before breaking? That depends on how it was designed in the first place. Houses are typically designed to be able to hold a lot of weight, whereas outdoor and agricultural buildings are often designed with a lower capacity. Many older buildings may not have been built to withstand as much load as more modern buildings and as a building ages and the material used become older and weaker it may be less and less able to withstand the weight of heavy packed snow.

How much does it weigh? That’s the problem with snow accumulation, it’s hard to tell and that’s one of the reasons it’s worth considering removing it – you just never know. Freshly fallen powder might weigh around 7lbs per square foot, which is no problem for most rooves, but compacted snow can weigh up to 30lbs per square foot and higher. If it rains on top of that, it gets heavier still and then you may run into serious problems like cracked support beams or worse, an actual collapse.

Roof rake safety

Most snow removal rakes are designed to be used from the ground floor and extend upwards of 20ft in length to enable you to use them comfortably. For higher levels, there are extendable roof rakes which offer additional attachable length which will add another few feet with each additional piece. These extensions usually extend the length by another 5 – 10 feet at the most otherwise it starts become unwieldy which is dangerous in itself.

If you do decide you need to climb a ladder to reach higher problem areas then there are some basic safety precautions you should adhere to in order to remain safe while doing so. Falling off of ladder and from rooftops is something which accounts for many injuries and numerous deaths every year and these activities are made much more hazardous by slippery ice and snow. Protecting your property is important but protecting your life is vastly more important.

Whatever you do, resist the temptation to go crawling around on your roof to get to those hard to reach places. Even if you are young and sprightly and are have no problem up there in the summer months, the winter is a different prospect. Heavy powder hides treacherous ice patches which will cause you to slip and fall unless you are extremely careful. It just isn’t worth it.

Should you use a ladder to rake snow off a roof, make sure it is secure or that you have someone holding on to it. Remembering also, that you are dislodging snow which falls down and your partner underneath doesn’t want to be in the firing line. For safety’s sake, raking is best done from the ground…period but if you have to get some extra height, be mindful of the dangers.

Minnsnowta Roof Razor - See A Snow Clearing Rake Of A Roof At Work

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