How to Clear Snow off Roof with a Rope (Step-by-Step)

Leaving too much snow on your roof, especially if your roof is older, can lead to damage and hefty costs for repairs. Clearing snow from your roof is crucial to assure that the weight of the snow and melting through any leaks or compromised areas don’t break the bank. There are a number of ways to go about it, including clearing snow off roof with rope. How does it work, and is it a good idea?

Let’s break it down into the most common questions about the process, including how clear you can get your roof with a rope, whether or not rope can also remove ice, and how safe it is to try to remove snow with a rope.

Can You Clear Snow off Roof with a Rope?

Using a rope to remove snow from your roof is a good solution that is extremely cost-effective since most people have lengths of rope in their garages for other purposes. If purchasing a rope is necessary, you have a lot of options in lengths so that you can accommodate any size roof, as well, and it’s not expensive.

However, you likely won’t be able to completely clear the snow from the roof, since it’s not an exact science. This is usually done from the ground, and is an option to reduce the load on your roof so the weight of the snow doesn’t cause it to cave. It also reduces the amount of snow that can melt and seep into any weak points in your roof.

You also don’t want to take too much, since the rope could potentially pull some of the shingles loose, causing even greater damage to the roof.

Is it Safe to Clear Snow off Roof with Rope?

In many do-it-yourself projects, the question of safety often lies with the person entering into the endeavor. While some things are inherently dangerous and should only be done by a professional, other things can be done safely based on precautions taken by the person who is attempting the task.

With any method of snow removal from roofs, there are certain dangers involved. Taking the right precautions and properly working the rope can make it a very safe method of snow removal, especially compared to other available options.

It’s important not to get too detailed when trying to remove every last flake of snow, since this can compromise shingles. You also want to make sure you stand clear of the edge of the roof where the snow falls, since large amounts of snow can be heavy and debilitating and cause hypothermia and frostbite in the worst of conditions.

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How to Clear Snow off Roof Using a Rope? (Step-by-Step)

When it comes to clearing snow off the roof using a rope, you need to follow specific steps for success. Here’s the best way to make the most of your efforts in a safe manor.

1. Find rope in your personal stash or visit a hardware store to purchase a new rope for the job. Before you choose your rope, consider your situation and learn more about the type of rope you’ll need. This is something we’ll discuss below.

2. Cut the rope to an appropriate length if necessary, or purchase a length of rope that makes sense. You want the rope long enough to cover large areas of your roof while you still have both ends in your hands and stand at a short distance from the edge of the roof. However, if the rope is too long, you may have difficulty wielding it properly, so take into account your size and strength.

3. Toss the middle section of rope on top of your roof so it wraps around a large pile of snow, keeping both ends of the rope in your hand. The idea is for the rope to sink into the snow so that you have it ‘lassoed’ within the middle of the rope. Be careful not to tug on the rope until you’re ready for the snow to start falling.

4. Begin stepping backward carefully so you don’t lose footing in the snow on the ground. Keep hold of the ends of the rope so that, as you move, it slowly draws the middle of the rope off the roof, bringing the snow it wraps down from your roof.

5. Repeat these steps until enough snow has been removed from your roof to assure it’s not weighing the roof down too much, while not trying so hard that you end up damaging roof tiles or shingles.

Feel free to watch this video below:


What Size Rope Should You Use?

As mentioned above in the steps for snow removal, you need to consider the elements you’re facing and the shape your roof is in when choosing the rope size to use. The size rope needed to remove snow from your rope depends on your roof – age, integrity, size – and the typical load of snow you’re trying to remove.

If you live in an area with extremely heavy snowfall, you’ll want stronger, thicker rope than someone with lighter snowfall. Thickness can assist in getting larger quantities of snow off your roof at one time, since it’s heavier and will sink deeper into the thick piles of snow. Longer rope can cover larger areas and speed up the removal of snow for larger or steeper roofs.

Can You Use a Wire to Remove Snow from Roof?

Rope isn’t the only inexpensive, readily available material you can use to clear snow from your roof. Following the same instructions, you can also clear the snow from your roof using wire. Insulated wire is best, and the thicker that wire is, the more snow you can remove.

However, this is a better solution for thinner layers of snow, as long as you aren’t trying to go deep into the piles. The danger with wire over rope is that it will more easily catch on loose shingles and pull them off.

Will a Rope Help Remove Ice from Roof?

While rope is a great solution for removing snow from your roof, removing ice is not recommended. Ice is heavier and more stubbornly stuck, and rope won’t cut through thick layers of ice. On the contrary, if the ice is sharp, it can actually cut through the rope.

In addition, pulling the rope against ice that has adhered to the shingles can quickly and easily remove those shingles, doing more harm than good. You’ll have even less leverage with wire. But that doesn’t mean you don’t have options for getting the damaging layers of ice off your roof. Frost King RC60 Heating Cables, 60', Black

A better solution for ice is the use of snow roof melting cables or roof melts.

Roof melts are tablets that contain calcium chloride, a substance that produces heat when activated by water (including ice or snow). That heat starts to melt the ice, allowing it to organically run off the roof as it melts.

All you have to do is toss the tablets on the roof, while keeping your feet on the ground, to areas covered with ice. This is typically the roof edge or the gutters, and the roof melts are a much safer solution for clearing the ice from the roof.

Melting cables offer another source of heat and can be installed as a preventative measure. You can plug them into a standard 120v power source, and when snow begins to fall, and ice gathers and freezes at the edges of your roof, as well as in your gutters, you’ll find that these provide sufficient heat to melt the ice, even in extremely cold temperatures.

While both of these are likely a greater expense than rope, they are faster solutions that require far less work on your part. They are also still available in very cost-effective options.

Final Thoughts

While rope won’t do much good with ice, clearing snow off roof with rope is a great option. You can cut rope to the proper size for you to manage and still cover a large area of any size roof. It’s probably the least expensive way to get heavy loads of snow from the roof. It’s safer than most do-it-yourself options for assuring you don’t compromise the integrity of your roof.

Other methods can help prevent ice from building and even keep snow from gathering too heavily on your roof. Roof melts and melting cables work well. If you don’t have rope available, you can use the same method of snow removal with wire. However, if you don’t mind putting forth a little effort, removing snow from your roof with rope is a simple, safe solution when done with caution.

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