Winter presents a unique array of challenges to New Jersey residents. Motorists navigate the icy highways and byways of the Garden State. When they arrive home, they deal with drifted drives and slick sidewalks. Sometimes, they must deal with more problems up on the roof, like ice dams and big piles of snow.

Timely snow removal reduces the chance of serious ice buildups. For many homeowners, the first impulse is to attempt to remove some of that wet, heavy snow. For the vast majority of homeowners, scaling a ladder and venturing out on a slippery roof is a bad idea. That’s why professional roof snow removal is needed. 

Importance of Roof Snow Removal

There are key reasons why homeowners ask the question, “Who can help with roof snow removal?” The weight of snow on the roof is one concern. Ice dams are another.

Snow loads

Modern building codes demand roof design and construction that handles heavy snow accumulations. However, this doesn’t mean NJ roofs do not suffer damage when the snow piles up. Heavy, wet snow accompanies many a New Jersey winter. A story on New Jersey’s top snowfalls lists some exceeding 20 inches. Worse yet, many of the worst storms have happened in recent decades. Edison recorded 32 inches of snow in the Blizzard of 1996.

Heavy snow loads subject area roofs to unique stresses. Some conditions make matters worse:

Roofs compromised before winter’s arrival – some roofs lack structural integrity long before winter’s first storm arrives. According to the Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety, “Unless the roof structure is damaged or decayed, most residential roofs regardless of the location of the house should be able to support 20 pounds per square foot of snow before they become stressed.” Note the words “damaged or decayed” in the above quote. Heavy snow accumulations may exploit weaknesses in a compromised roof.

Some roofs are weaker than others due to:

  • Lack of annual roof inspections
  • Leaks that remained undetected for years
  • Rotting timbers that support the roof deck
  • Termites weaken roof decking/framing

Snow loads on extra shingle layers – Local codes usually prohibit re-roofing more than once over existing asphalt shingles. However, two layers of shingles still double the load on the roof. A single square can weigh 230-430 pounds. Each square covers 100 sqft. Shingles alone on a 2,000 sqft roof can weigh a couple of tons. Double that for two layers of shingles. Triple it if you have an older home with three layers of shingles. A couple of feet of rain-saturated snow further stresses the roof.

Serious problems often occur even when a roof doesn’t actually collapse. Sometimes, aging or poorly maintained roofs sag under the weight of ice and snow. When the ravages of winter weather give way to spring warmth, the damage is already done. Sagging portions of the roof may become more vulnerable to moisture intrusion – leaks, that is.

Older roofs built when building codes were less stringent – A NJ.com post highlights communities where a significant percentage of the homes were built before 1939. The percentage of such homes exceeds 50 percent in some places. Some communities in Bergen and Essex counties exceed this threshold, for example.

Ice Dams

It’s a cycle repeated all too often in Northern New Jersey. Heavy snow leads to ice dams along the eaves. Giant icicles extend toward the ground below. Roof leaks sometimes follow.

New Jersey winter weather conditions make ice dams more likely for a variety of reasons:

  • Nor’easters dump heavy snow
  • NJ snow often has a higher moisture content
  • Rain and freezing rain may further saturate snow on the roof
  • Snowmelt becomes ice as temperatures rise above and fall below freezing

Roof Snow Removal Options

Prompt roof snow removal often reduces the chance of serious roof problems. There are three main options. You can do it yourself, hire a service or work with a professional roofing contractor.

Do it yourself

Is it a do-it-yourself task? Homeowners with single-story ranch homes might attempt to remove snow while standing on the ground. The right snow rake with handle extensions allows for an extended reach. However, if there are power lines anywhere near your roof, it’s vital to avoid the use of metal-handled roof rakes.

Hire a service

Many homeowners intuitively understand the dangers inherent in going up on the roof. Beware of services that are uninsured or under-insured. Inadequate insurance could lead to a claim filed against your own homeowner’s policy. Also, watch out for inexperienced workers lacking roof safety training. Low ball bids should raise red flags.

Basic snow removal services sometimes send workers that:

  • Lack safety training
  • Are less experienced
  • Don’t scale roofs all that often

If you choose to hire a service, make sure those involved are experienced, safety-conscious and insured.

Select a reputable local roofing contractor

By contrast, the right local professional roofing company will give you confidence. Such a contractor:

  • Understands the dangers of climbing up on roofs
  • Promotes safe, OSHA-approved practices
  • Uses the proper equipment
  • Is properly insured

Scaling roofs is often a dangerous business. One study found that roofing accounted for one in three serious construction accidents. Even in the best weather conditions, a single misstep may result in a life-altering event. In the winter, ice and snow-covered roofs get downright treacherous. The stakes are even higher around two and three-story homes.

OSHA-based safety training and safety equipment helps keep professional roofers safe. Professional roofers respect the hazards, and they take the proper precautions when performing roof snow removal.

Look for a roofing company that’s reputably served your local community for a long time. Also, look for factory-certified roofing contractors. Big manufacturers like GAF and Owens Corning certify contractors they trust. It is easier for homeowners to trust them too, even if it’s only for roof snow removal.

Contact Us Today

CRS is a NJ roofing specialist serving homeowners since 1977. Reach out to us when you grow concerned about heavy snow accumulations on your roof. We’ll take care of the problem in a safe and effective way.

We offer full roof replacements, emergency repairs, certified roof inspections and roof cleaning. We are factory-certified by both Owens Corning and GAF. For friendly, professional help, please contact us today!

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Mike Stone

About Mike Stone

Michael was born into the world of home improvement and has been involved ever since. Both his grandfather and father were business owners within the field, which allowed Michael to learn the ins and outs from a young age. He spent summers accompanying his father on jobs and consultations with homeowners. He attended school for business but realized he wanted to succeed his father and take over the company. After his father’s sudden passing, Michael decided to continue following in his father’s footsteps. He began looking for a dynamic team to join and found CRS. We gladly welcomed him into our family.