What could go wrong?

In preparation for last weekend’s storm, I attempted to clear some of the snow from the roof of my house and garage. With the record-breaking snowfall of February, the roof of our nearly 100-year-old, two story home had sprouted some impressive icicles and equally prominent ice dams.

In the five winters we have spent in the home, this winter was the second time we have hired someone to come rake the snow away from the edge of the roof to prevent ice dams and the damage they can cause.

According to Wikipedia, an ice dam is an ice build-up on the eaves of sloped roofs of heated buildings that results from melting snow under a snow pack reaching the eave and freezing there. Freezing at the eave impedes the drainage of meltwater, which adds to the ice dam and causes backup of the meltwater in a manner which may cause water leakage into the roof and consequent damage to the building and its contents if the water leaks through the roof.

The snows of February were dry, which I have learned is perfect insulation and an important contributing factor to the formation of ice dams. Cold temperatures are another factor necessary to create the proper conditions for ice dams. Yup, check that off as well.

So, like many other people in the area, I figured it was time to get a snow rake for my roof. If you were among those desperately looking for the unwieldy contraptions, you know that they were as hard to find as hen’s teeth. They are a fairly expensive item, one that only sells when a perfect conflagration of circumstances occurs, like this winter. So, it makes sense that stores were sold out.

I ordered and received mine on Friday, the day before the storm. After some partial assembly, I was ready to go do battle in the snow.

I readily admit that I am woefully out of shape, so when attempting tasks like raking snow off a structure ten feet or more above my head, I know it will be taxing.

I learned the thought behind raking snow off your roof was to create a relatively clean area about a foot or so away from the edge of the roof. If there is a clear area, the sun’s rays, which are pretty powerful now, will strike the shingles on the roof. The shingles will heat up, melting the snow and ice and prevent the accumulation of ice and the dams that can cause havoc.

So, the sedentary man went off to remove some of the layers of snow. I have noticed that with the frequent snowfalls, the snow looks like a layer cake on the roof, with clearly defined strata, much like sedimentary rocks.

As I worked to saw my way through the layer cake of snow and pull it down, I was struck by how difficult it was and the ingenuity of the person who devised the first roof rake. Genius.

After an hour or so, I had cleared a swath on the garage and the front and back porch of the house. I even successfully knocked down some icicles that were as tall as I am.

Score one for the soon to be sore sedentary man.

Here’s hoping the weather improves so no one has snowmelt in their ceilings.

As always, I welcome your comments. You can reach me by email at,

telephone 715-268-8101 or write me at P.O. Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

Thanks for reading; I’ll keep in touch. Feel free to do the same.