Construction and Renovation

Roof Shoveling - A Brief Guide & Price Gouging

Are you thinking about your roof? Should you be?

Everyone here in New England should be mindful of their homes at any given point, however this winter could be a once in a lifetime experience. With that you may have never seen snow loads on your roofs like this before. 

The flatter the roof, the more it's affected by snow. The pictured roof above is a low ranch style roof. I doubt the roof was about to collapse that day. However if it had rained before we got the snow off, the danger would have magnified greatly. 

Hey there was a dormer under there?!

Hey there was a dormer under there?!

You may try and tackle this task yourself. Why not? It's easy enough... If you plan on taking your snow removal into your own hands, I commend you on your sense of responsibility and encourage you to follow some of the following tips.

- Start at the top and work down - keep a pile of snow in front of you for stability.

- Don't be bird. Don't step on the ridge, you'll damage the ridge vent which helps your home breathe while staying dry. Straddle the ridge if you're up there.

- Shovel down. Work with the shingles so you don't rip or break anything.

- Don't feel you need to scrape the roof clean. You're lightening the load. The sun will do the rest.

- Refer to these helpful safe shoveling tips from Gain Strength and Conditioning in Portsmouth how-to-not-hurt-your-back-shoveling

Will you be utilizing a roof rake? 

- Snowshoes are your friend here.

- Be mindful of what you will be pulling down. Is it going to land on your or anything fragile?

- Again, don't feel you need to remove all of the snow. 

- Exposing an area of dark shingles will do wonders for the solar melting process. 

- Always be prepared to shovel out any doors or windows you may bury in the process.

Ice Dams

If you should find icicles, explore the area above. Remove the snow and look for puddles. Hopefully you get to them before it's too late. How ice dams form and their life cycle is a topic for another day, but there is plenty of information on Google. All I can say when dealing with big heavy masses of ice on your delicate roof is.... BE CAREFUL - WORK SLOW.

If you need to hire someone. Start by asking a friend or neighbor you trust for a referral. When you find someone willing and able, talk to them about their rates and how they charge. I charge a minimum fee to show up with the necessary tools. From there I charge an hourly rate. Be careful of fixed price contractors. Every roof is different. I carefully stress to my clients that I will work as long as I am productive. If at any time the client feels good about what I have done, I'll stop and they will know what they are paying. There is absolutely no reason to break the bank on roof shoveling. It's a preventative measure not a renovation. If you have to refinance your home to have your roof cleared, find someone cheaper or roll the dice on your homeowners insurance.

Be careful of PRICE GOUGING

It never fails that the minute a roof collapses on the news you see crews of guys showing up to clear roofs for astronomical rates. The pros can definitely be expensive. They have very high liability premiums to pay. But if you find a professional roofer or snow removal contractor to take care of your roof, you will get a very good service. As for the other guys running around with shovels and ladders, be sure of what you're getting before you agree to pay their ridiculously high prices.  

Whether you tackle your roof yourself, or hire a reputable, ethical contractor to do so, the two pictures above are an example of how your roof should start and end. The left picture is unsafe and stressed, while the right picture is clear and ready for the next weather event. 

Patrick MerrillComment