Removing snow from roof



The Régie du bâtiment du Québec has no specific regulations governing snow removal from the roofs of our homes. The risks associated with too heavy a snow load will vary according to its properties. A large accumulation of light snow will not pose as many problems as a smaller quantity of wet snow or ice.

The roofs of our homes are designed to withstand the snow of Quebec winters. Our roofs are well built, and are capable of accumulating more snow than you might think (up to around 36 kilos per square foot). We take into account the slope of the roof, and as soon as we reach 60 cm (two feet) of snow, we plow. Note that a flat roof is generally built to withstand a maximum of 17 cm of ice, 38 cm of hard snow or 70 cm of fresh snow.


The aim is to remove overload from the roof of our house. We also take the opportunity to clear roof ventilators and plumbing vents. This is particularly important if there’s alternating freeze-thaw or heavy icing. In this case, you’ll probably need to consider an intervention. The same applies if a large snow formation is trapped in a hem of ice on the edge of the roof. It’s also important to keep a close eye on roof gaps where wind-driven snow could pile up. This could be where an exterior wall meets the garage roof, on the side facing away from the wind.


Clogged plumbing vents can make your home smell like a sewer. That’s why you need to clear these small chimneys so they don’t get clogged. The same goes for roof vents. If they’re not free, or if they’ve become so besieged by snow that they’re no longer visible or functional, they need to be cleared. Otherwise, if the interior heat, heats up the attic, you’ll end up with icicles on the edge of the roof.

The problem is considered urgent in the following circumstances:
– cracks, settling or water infiltration in the house, or if doors begin to rub or close with difficulty
– problems with the roof
– ice dams forming on the roof
– falling snow or ice threatens passers-by

In these cases, snow removal will usually restore the situation and not damage the structure of your home.

The best scenario, of course, is to carry out regular checks and maintenance to avoid more serious problems. Vigilance is always called for. So don’t wait until you have problems before taking action.


The Régie du Bâtiment du Québec recommends that this work be carried out by specialized companies. It’s a matter of safety, and reduces the risk of damaging your roof.

If you want to work on the roof yourself, remember to use a safety harness. This should be attached to a masonry chimney or to an anchor bolted to the concrete foundation, on the opposite side to the one being cleared. Finally, make sure the rope is short enough to keep you on the roof in case of a fall.
Always clear snow with a plastic rather than a metal shovel. Warning! Never clear a roof of snow completely, as shoveling can damage the covering. It’s best to leave at least 4 inches of snow on the roof.
For a sloping roof, a long pole and a squeegee are preferable, starting from a ladder firmly planted in a snow bank and well supported on the wall.


Cracks in interior walls, doors that jam or won’t close, and ceiling deformation are all indicators that your roof is under heavy pressure and that it’s time to clear the snow from your home’s roof. If nothing is done, the weight of the snow could cause heavy damage and, in extreme cases, cause the roof of your home to collapse.

You can also entrust this work to a contractor who not only has the necessary experience and equipment, but who also has insurance cover in case of damage.