How much to pay for someone to shovel snow off the roof?
February 14, 2010 1:25 PM   Subscribe

We live in the D.C area and have had ice dams on our roof and its starting to cause leaking problems. Nothing drastic, but some water is starting to drip inside of our windows. I put some Deicer in socks and threw them on the gutters to try to clear a path for the water to go, but that seems to be taking forever. Our neighbors have some guys shoveling snow off their roofs and they said they would do the same for us for $500. Is that too much to pay? Our house isn't that large, its a split-level home.

The other issue is that they are using snow shovels, and wouldn't that do damage to the roof? They also have told us they would use hammers to clear the gutters, and I have no idea if that is a good or bad idea.

We've called some roofers from and a lot of them were closed, we got in touch with one person who said that he doesn't think its a good idea to use a shovel, and that he recommends to wait it out and if it gets worse to remove the gutters. But online I've read that removing the gutters is a bad idea, which makes me doubt the roofers advice.

I know I'm a little bit all over the place, but it's just so confusing what exactly to do. I'm just worried they might cause additional damage and are trying to weigh the cost of the $500 vs. the potential damage of just waiting it out. Any advice would be appreciated.
posted by tedunni to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Wow! I think $500 is nuts. Have you gone to the hardware store to see if they have a snow rake? If they do, then you can clear the first couple of feet of snow from the roof without damaging it. All you need is 2 to 3 feet of clearance so that the ice can melt. You could take a hair dryer to the gutter to help melt the ice that's blocking your gutter. Then, as the rest of the snow on your roof melts, it will have a clear path to drain off without creating another ice dam.

Once all this clears, however, you'll want a reputable roofer to check the damage and see if you need repairs so that you don't get leaks in other storms.
posted by onhazier at 1:43 PM on February 14, 2010

Melt the ice with water from a hose.

Assuming day time temps aren't sub-freezing
posted by dfriedman at 1:44 PM on February 14, 2010

Ladder work is somewhat dangerous in good conditions, moreso in icy ones. $500 probably isn't a bad deal, but keep in mind that these guys may not know what they're doing.
posted by electroboy at 1:50 PM on February 14, 2010

Here's a link with information on how to use the snow rake. The snow rake should have a long enough handle to allow you to stand on the ground and stay off the roof.
posted by onhazier at 1:59 PM on February 14, 2010

I have a snow rake for my a-frame style house.. it's easy to use, and safe. Your goal is to remove enough of the snow to prevent excessive melting and thereby ice dams and water backup.

There isn't much you can safely do now other than remove as much snow as possible with a rack.

These guys sound like idiots to me... and $500 is excessive.

In the future, remove the snow right after it stops snowing. You might also want to look into the heating wires that you can run to melt ice dams, but this needs to be done when there isn't any snow on the roof.
posted by HuronBob at 2:04 PM on February 14, 2010

and, if you've already got water coming in, putting a hose up there is probably not a great idea...
posted by HuronBob at 2:05 PM on February 14, 2010

Check out the connections to your clothes washer as they tend to use the same connector as a garden hose. Hook up the garden hose to the hot water connector and run the hose outside. Be prepared to get wet no matter how careful you are, but it's the fastest way.

Be aware that if the water coming out of your tank is hot enough to scald, you will get scalded unless you turn it down or connect to a faucet that has both hot and cold water connectors.

I believe they also make special adapters for kitchen sinks for filling water beds to work with a garden hose if you can't use the one for your washing machine.

I've melted water damns twice this way, it's a hell of a lot quicker than any other method I've seen in action.

As for the snow on the roof, a roof rake is safe on asphalt shingles but most likely out of stock in your region right now thanks to the time of year and huge amount of snowfall you have. They're like $20 to $30 if you can find them, nothing more than a pole with a piece of metal perpendicular to the pipe on the end. $500 seems excessive, but it's the usual law of supply and demand. They have the tools and they're providing a service. I'm able to clean my own roof in about 20 minutes, so if that's all their doing for that amount of money they're definitely making out like bandits.
posted by inthe80s at 2:05 PM on February 14, 2010

I'd probably want $500 to do what they're doing, too. Fortunately, that's not the only option. Get the snow rake, do it yourself. Then hire yourself out to your neighbors at $450 a roof...
posted by the christopher hundreds at 2:07 PM on February 14, 2010

Response by poster: thanks everyone for their answers. Unfortunately all the hardware stores are out of snow rakes. But I immediately did what ohnazier said and took a hair dryer up there along with a hammer and I cleared a narrow path (it took about an hour), and immediately a lot of water just started to drain out of this small path. This resulted in the leak inside the house to stop. I might have to do this again tomorrow as it'll probably freeze up tonight. But thanks. I might try the water hose tomorrow.
posted by tedunni at 3:01 PM on February 14, 2010

You could mix deicer with hot water (stir with a stick or something similar...pour that down in your gutters. The combination of deicer and hot water should help keep your gutters clear.
posted by schyler523 at 3:32 PM on February 14, 2010

I'd suggest stopping the leak before it causes structural beams to rot...repairing that kind of thing can get expensive.
posted by sninctown at 4:00 PM on February 14, 2010

Amazon has snow rakes in stock and I suspect you could have one next-day'd to you for considerably less than $500.
posted by EmptyK at 5:27 PM on February 14, 2010

Look for pellets of salt (about the size and shape of a hockey puck). They burn through ice like nothing.
posted by megatherium at 6:03 PM on February 14, 2010

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