Making A Tool
For Getting Snow
Off The Roof

Dateline: 11 February 2015

That's a full foot and a half of snow. 

The snow around here is getting high enough that many people are concerned about the weight of it on their roof. A heavy snow load can collapse a roof, and there have been plenty of instances of that around here over the years. 

I’ve never been too concerned about the weight of snow on my house roof because I built it and I know it is built well. Besides that, the roof does not have a low pitch and is in a place where it doesn’t seem to accumulate as much snow as some other roofs hereabouts.

But our second house, a factory-manufactured “doublewide” just down the road, is a different story. The roof pitch isn’t much, and the house is so sheltered that the snow really piles up, as the picture above shows.

To make matters worse, weather reports were predicting freezing rain here a few days ago. Snow on a roof holds rain water like a sponge, and the weight load really skyrockets. It’s a recipe for possible disaster. So I needed to get the snow off that roof for sure.

I could have just shoveled the whole roof off by hand, but I was intrigued by several clever snow-removal devices that I saw on YouTube. This Video of a tool from Finland was the first I saw, and it sure was inspiring. I watched videos of many other snow removal tools and came to the conclusion that This One (also from Finland) was the most intelligent and effective design.

With that in mind, my middle son and I spent last Saturday morning making a prototype tool for roof snow removal. It was a collaborative effort. 

I told my son that if we figured out a good design, I would help him get it to market (for next winter). We would sell them through Planet Whizbang and he could keep the profits. My business and workshop would serve as an incubator for his own start-up business. That would please me to no end. So we made our prototype and here is a video of it in action (on the roof of my workshop)...

That first prototype was encouraging, but it had some problems. We modified the design and it worked better. But a whole new, improved prototype is in the works. Maybe we can get that together by next weekend.

By then, I will have the 24-foot Graelick, telescoping aluminum extension pole I ordered. The pole is much lighter than the two sections of 1” diameter steel conduit we were using in the video. I used the conduit because I had several lengths on hand (I use them when making My Garden Trellis Spans). A lightweight, 24-foot extension pole could prove to be a handy tool for other homestead tasks.

Even with the heavy handle and not-yet-finalized design, our snow removal tool did a truly remarkable job of removing most of the snow from the doublewide roof. 

This first push up the roof shows how nicely the tool slices through and releases the snow.


There is yet another (and much simpler) way of getting a lot of snow off a roof. This Video is also from Finland and it is well worth watching if you have an interest in this subject.


WhatIfWeAllCared? said...

Love it!!! I m going to facebook tho and want to also show it to my 14-year-old son as I think it will inspire him.
Thank you so much for sharing your creative solution!!!

Jake said...

This post and the video you linked at the end reminded me of the 'snow prank' from the movie 'Grumpy Old Men.' :-)

The idea, at least in the movie, was to spray the snow on the roof with water, which runs to the bottom and freezes (overnight) into an ice sheet. Then slam the house door, and everything on top of the ice slides off.(which means it slides off onto the next person to leave the house if he's not paying attention.)

You obviously don't want to pull the prank on your son, but I wonder if it would work as a snow removal technique, as long as there isn't too much weight on the roof already, and the roof is steep enough.

Anonymous said...

Oh, boy, sure sorry about all that snow. That's just extra work. What a clever tool, though.

smitty smith said...

You could go to a pool supply business to get the aluminum telescoping pole. They sell them year round here in Calif. at Lowes.

Anonymous said...

there is a product on the market called a roof razor. i have had one for several yrs. it is almost identical to yours. its got a pretty heavy price tag.

Herrick Kimball said...

Roof Razor: $154.95 + shipping. They are currently out of stock.

I was at the local lumberyard this morning and the manager told me he could have sold 6 roof rakes thus far today if he had them in stock. I thought he brought the subject up because he heard about the tool I was making. But he hadn't. I said my son and I were going to make 100 of them to have for next winter. He said he needed them today.

Are you satisfied with the Roof Razor you bought? I wasn't convinced the closed loop design was as easy to use as the upright cutters on each side (open at the top). I say that from observing the YouTube clips of the tool, not actual use.

Herrick Kimball said...

Whatifwe allcared?—
I hope your son is truly inspired. There are all kinds of different ideas (many homemade) on YouTube.

Terence Warner said...

Whoa, that enormous load of snow could certainly collapse a roof. While that prototyped DIY snow-removal tool you designed is pretty clever, I don’t think any homeowner should wait until there’s a foot and a half of accumulated snow in their roof before raking them off. Nonetheless, thanks for sharing it with us. It looks like anyone who lives in heavily-snowy areas could really make use of that. Good day!

Terence Warner @ Brunwin Roofing

fred said...

The roof rakes are a good idea, but remember to use them while the snow is still fresh. If you wait to long the snow becomes packed and Icy. If you wait to long and it gets Icy along the edge of the roof, there isn't a roof rake that can get rid of the packed snow. Then you may have to hire a professional.