To shovel or not to shovel?

Roofs: To shovel or not to shovel; that is the question.

Have you looked outside? Well, if you live in the Midland area, or anywhere around Georgian Bay, all you’re going to see is snow. Lots of snow. And then more snow. Our streets have been reduced to single lanes, sidewalks are treacherous and programs are cancelled.

Welcome to the snow belt of Ontario!

We’ll spend numerous hours this winter shovelling, scraping and snow-blowing the piles of white stuff that Mother Nature throws our way. While the necessity of clearing the sidewalks, driveways and stairs is obvious, there seem to be different opinions as to whether or not you should shovel your roof.

Your roof has been built to withstand the amount of snowfall typical for your location, so there’s likely no need to ever shovel it.

The trusses (framework supporting your roof) must meet strict guidelines set out by the Ontario Building Code Act to hold up to a certain amount of weight per square foot. Even though codes have changed over the years, that doesn’t mean that your older home is cause for concern. After all, it’s held up so far, hasn’t it?

There are a few warning signs to watch out for in the rare occasion that your roof is under too much stress:

  • Unusual sounds from the roof or supporting walls
  • Visible movement of walls
  • Sagging of ceiling and cracking of drywall or plaster
  • Doors that jam
  • Water leaks that show up after a big snow fall

Keep in mind that sheds or other small buildings may not meet the code guidelines for snow weight so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on them.

Another great reason not to shovel your roof is the safety factor. Climbing a ladder up to your roof always has risks involved, but doing it in icy or snowy conditions greatly increases the possibility of a bad fall. If you do get safely onto the roof, the slippery surface is a real danger.

Every year there are reports across Canada of fatal accidents involving people shovelling their roofs. You don’t want to become a statistic.

There’s one final reason to stay off of your roof this winter.   We mentioned above that your roof will hold a certain amount of weight per square foot. If you add the weight of an average man to the equation, there are an additional 200 pounds of pressure, so you’re actually increasing the odds of roof failure!

If you’re still concerned about the amount of snow on your roof and want to have it removed, please consider hiring a professional. Find someone who is experienced and most importantly, properly insured.

Keep warm this winter, stay safe and leave the snow on the roof.


Bryson Bumstead is a certified Master Inspector and a Licensed Plumber with over 30 years of experience in the construction field. BDB Home Inspections provides professional assessments in the Southern Georgian Bay area.