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Should You Remove Snow From the Roof of Your Log Home?

Posted by Burt Cavanaugh on January 27, 2020


Michigan sees a LOT of snow most years, and you may have wondered:

“Do I need to remove the snow from my roof?”

You may think those icicles hanging from your roof are pretty but they are actually a symptom of a potentially damaging problem for your home. As snow melts from your roof either by the sun or heat escaping from the home it tends to refreeze at the edges and other juncture points of your roof. The refreezing of water has a damming effect creating an even bigger ice dam behind it. Continuous feeding of the ice dam by melting and refreezing snow melt can cause significant damage to the roof and well as interior of the home. Source.

A traditional rule of thumb is you should remove snow if there are more than 4 feet of dry snow, or more than 2 feet of heavy, wet snow and ice on the roof. Here’s how to determine if you really need to remove the snow from your roof or not. (It’s a classic formula based on weight of snow + depth of snow.)

Want to know for sure? Here are a few things you should think about when deciding whether or not you need to remove snow from the roof of your log cabin or home:

How much snow falls consistently in your area?  Most areas in Michigan will get hit with more than one or two snowstorms per winter, but this is especially true if you are in a lake-effect area. If more snow is being predicted and you still have snow on your roof from the last one, you should probably have a plan for removing it.  If you are lucky enough (or you’ve had a mild enough winter) that snow from one storm tends to melt before the next storm hits, you can probably go without.

How steep is the pitch of your roof? If you have a flatter roof, more of the snow will stay on it and so it will be more likely that you’ll need to remove the snow from it. If it has a steeper pitch, the snow is more likely to fall or be blown off on it’s own. (Here is some information on how to determine how much snow “load” your roof can take.)

How old is your home? If your house is older, it will need snow removal sooner than a newer one.
Structures constructed with traditional building permits should be designed for 40 lbs/sq ft minimum roof snow load. Older roofs often haven’t been built to the same standard, and may not meet this minimum roof snow load.

Is warmer weather temporarily on the way? If so, and the current load of snow on your roof starts to melt (but isn’t completely gone) before it re-freezes again, you could end up with a huge amount of added weight from new ice on your roof.

If you decide it’s time to get that heavy stuff off your roof, most people start with a roof rake (available at most hardware stores). You can also find professionals that can help, if you’re not comfortable with the process.

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