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DEVELOPMENT OF THE ROOF SNOW REMOVAL TOOL 

Salt Lake City, UT received over 4 feet of snow during the first 10 days in 1993. Residents were out in mass, shoveling the heavy accumulations of snow from roofs, in anticipation of more storms to come. In many cases, the danger of falling from slippery roofs proved to be greater than the risk of collapsing roofs.

By January 10th, fall injuries had flooded emergency rooms. The Salt Lake Tribune warned Clearing Snow From Roofs Is Pitched With Dangers.

This snow removal tool is a product of that crisis. It was developed to provide a way for removing roof snow without having to climb on the roof.

KSL Television spotlighted this tool on the 10:00 PM news on January 10th. The newscast was followed up by a news article in the Deseret News on January 12th, which gave brief instructions on how to construct the snow removal tool.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hsp-IjueZ5M

Subsequent articles by the Deseret News during the next few days made the following observations:

Impressed by a roof-clearing contraption invented by a local man using PVC pipe, Salt Lake officials have begun building and lending the devices to residents.

Salt Lake Mayor DeeDee Corradini said..her..staff had made 30 of the snow removers and were planning to make up to 60 more. People are starting to make these all over town, Corradini said, They really do work very well.

Thompson didnt just cast worried glances at his roof. He whipped up a gadget that looked a little like something from outer space. It cleans a roof lickety-split without the home owner endangering life and limb by climbing up icy shingles. The invention caused a run on PVC pipe at local home-maintenance stores.

By week's end stories about how to remove roof snow safely were a staple in all media. A recurrent piece was on how easy it was to use a plastic pipe contraption. Deseret News followed up on television reports of how a householder created such a device for under $20.

This roof snow removal tool may take you a couple of hours to build. It may spend years in idle storage. But, when you need it, you are really going to need it and so will your neighbors. Share the tool around. All it takes is a little duct tape and plastic sheeting to make it as good as new and allow you to be prepared in time of need.

ROOF SNOW REMOVAL TOOL - PARTS AND TOOLS REQUIRED

PARTS AND SUPPLIES LIST

(Quantity) Item *All PVC pipe and fittings are Schedule 40, slip
(6) 10' sections of 1" PVC pipe*

(1) 1/2" rigid copper pipe, 18 1/2" long

(2) 1/4" diameter steel rods, 18" long

(2) PVC tees*, 1" x 1" x 3/4"

(1) 3/4" PVC pipe, approximately 16 1/4" long

(2) 1" PVC elbows*

(1) 1/4" dia. steel rod, about 21" long (Cut finish length in step 20)

(1) Flat piece for front foil, 2 1/4" wide by 16"long, made of 1/8"
Plexiglas, sheet metal, masonite, or other durable material

(1) 10' length of plastic sheeting 18" wide to use as an apron for snow
to slide on. May need to be longer, depending on length and pitch
of roof. Flat poly sheeting, about the thickness of contractor
garbage bags (3 to 4 mils), works well.

(4) 1" PVC connectors*

(6) #6 pan head screws, 1/2" in length (Phillips are easiest to install)

(1) Silicone glue (small amount)

(1) PVC glue (small can is sufficient)

(1) Roll of duct tape (You can never have too much)

TOOLS REQUIRED
Item
Hack saw (A pipe cutter can be used instead, on pipe cuts)
Vise
Electric drill (Drill press preferred)
5/8" wood bit
1/4" drill bit
1/16" drill bit
Screwdriver
File
Scissors
 
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Step 1:

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Cut two short 1" PVC pipes 3-1/2" long.

Mark the 1" pipes with an "A" on one end and a "B" on the other end.

Mark an "X" on both 1" pipes at a distance 1-1/2" from the "B" ends.



Step 2:

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Drill 5/8" holes through one side only of each of the two precut 1" pipes, at the points located by the "Xs". Use a vise to hold pipe while drilling.

Step 3:

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Cut a 18-1/2"long piece of 1/2" rigid copper pipe to use as a support pipe. If cut with a hacksaw, slightly round the ends with a file to make them easier to insert.

Press the 1"PVC pipes onto the ends of the copper pipe.

Step 4:

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Place the assembly flat on the table, with both "A" ends facing the same direction.

Mark an "X" on the top of both 1" pipes in the assembly, directly above the inserted copper pipe.


Step 5:

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Drill 1/4" holes at the "Xs", passing straight down through the top side of the PVC pipes and both sides of the copper pipe. Do not drill through the bottom side of the PVC pipe.

Step 6:

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Cut two 1/4" steel rods 18" long. Slightly round both ends of the rods with a file.

Push the rods through the 1/4" holes drilled in step #5. This should be a tight fit that holds the rods firmly in place. If the rods are too loose, glue them in place with silicone glue.

Step 7:

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Temporarily place the 1"x 1"x 3/4" PVC tees on the "B" ends of the assembly. Do not glue. Turn the position of the 3/4" openings to face each other. Cut a 3/4" PVC pipe at the correct length to connect the two tees.(Approximately 16 1/4" long)

Step 8:

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Remove the tees from the assembly. Temporarily place the tees on the ends of the 3/4" pipe. Do not glue. Verify that the position of the tees matches the "B" ends of the assembly.

Step 9:

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Remove the tees. Glue the tees onto the 3/4" pipe in the position determined in the previous step.

Glue the tees onto the "B" ends of the assembly.

Mark an "A" on one end of both 1" elbows. Mark an "X" on the side of each elbow, at a point 1" from the "A" end and 1/4" down from the center line of the elbow.

Step 10:

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Drill 1/4" holes straight down through both sides of the elbows, at the points indicated by the "Xs". Hold the fitting with a vise to prevent the drill bit from drifting from position during drilling.

Step 11:

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Push the 1/4" rod through both sides of one of the elbows. Position the rod so it is flush with the outside edge of the elbow.

Step 12:

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Push the other end of the 1/4" rod through the remaining elbow. Align the elbow to the assembly by adjusting the position of the second elbow. Glue the "A" ends of the elbows onto the "A" ends of the assembly. The open ends of the elbows should be turned up.

Step 13:

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Cut the 1/4" rod flush with the outside edge of the elbow. Slightly round the ends of the rod with a file to remove any sharp edges.

Use duct tape to secure the 2 1/2" flat piece to form a foil on the front of the assembly between the front rod and the 1/2" copper pipe.

Step 14:

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Close off the open ends of the elbows with duct tape.

Step 15:

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Install a 1" PVC pipe section on each of the two open ends of the assembly, as handles. Do not glue. Mark the fittings with reference points for reassembly. Drill 1/16" screw holes down through at the top side of the fitting/pipe connections. Turn the screws all the way in to avoid snags.

Step 16:

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Cut a plastic apron strip 18" wide by 12' long or longer, depending on length of roof. Drape the end of the plastic strip over the top of the 3/4" pipe.

Step 17:

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Duct tape the folded-over edge of the plastic strip to the top side of the plastic apron. Do not put tape on the bottom side of the apron.


Step 18:

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Add additional handle sections as needed. Do not glue. Use duct tape to secure the PVC connects to the pipe to allow for disassembly.

For storage, remove handles and roll up plastic apron around assembly head. To protect the plastic apron, do not store in an area with direct sunlight exposure.

Step 19: INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE

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INSTRUCTIONS FOR USE OF THE ROOF SNOW REMOVAL TOOL

This tool is designed to slide under the snow, cutting a 16" wide path as it is pushed up the roof. The slanted edge of the foil keeps the tool down against the roof while the curved edge of the elbows helps the tool slide smoothly over the roof surface. During use, check the tool to make certain there are no protruding or broken parts that can cause damage to shingles.

The operator needs to be in a position that allows the tool to remain parallel to the roof. This can be accomplished, in many cases, with the use of an A frame step ladder. The ladder needs to be on firm footing and ladder manufacturer instructions should be carefully followed. Unsafe ladder usage can be just as dangerous as a slippery roof.

The tool is not designed to cut ice. It is designed to bend or break if it is forced against something stronger than moderately packed snow. It is easier to straighten a 1/4" rod and add a little duct tape than it is to replace a broken vent pipe.

As the tool is pushed up the roof, blocks of snow break loose and slide off the roof. The operator can slow down the speed of the blocks by moving the two handles closer together. The operator needs to be supported in such a way to not lose balance when the sliding snow hits the ladder or the operator.

The operator can control the direction of the cut by the movement of the handles. By pushing harder on one handle than the other, the tool can be moved diagonally on the roof. This is particularly helpful with vent pipes and valleys.

CAUTIONS

Do not use the tool around power lines. A wet pipe can conduct electricity.

Do not use the tool without the help of an able assistant.

Do not force the tool. If one area does not cut and slide easily, work around it.

Do not attempt to clean 2nd story or flat roofs with this tool.

See on youtube at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hsp-IjueZ5M

                             http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzqppspIXkQ
nhill71 year ago
love the instructable the pick up ro what make is it I love it
grandpajoe (author)  nhill71 year ago
It is a 1951 Willys. This photo was taken at the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab, Utah.
Tim Temple4 years ago
That's called chamfering.
grandpajoe (author)  Tim Temple4 years ago
Tim,

This was a new word for me..."Chamfering: A cut that is made in wood or some other material, usually at a 45° angle to the adjacent principal faces."

If I understand your comment, the uprights make two chamfer cuts in the snow.

Thanks for the comment,

Grandpajoe
I have to give a big "thank you" for this instructable.  I put one of these babies together in half an hour or so this evening and went to work on the 12" + of snow on my roof that was causing all sorts of drippage problems.  It works beautifully.  the only changes I made to the design were due to my being cheap & lazy.  I found that the fiberglass reflective sticks for marking driveways at Lowes were more cost effective than steel rod, and fit perfectly in a 3/8" drilled hole.  I also only had two cross-members, the pvc pipe which I glued into Tees on either side, and a cut-off section of fiberglass marker in front to act as the leading edge.  I then duct taped the plastic sheet around the front edge of the "snow blade".  Again, thanks for the 'ible.  I now have to figure out how to move the mountain of snow in front of my garage and on my deck.  :-)
grandpajoe (author)  Zog the Troll5 years ago
Zog...Some of my best friends are trolls.  Great insight...  As you see, there is not an exact formula as long a you keep the basic design.  The uprights on the first one I made were two pieces of 1/8" spring steel rod from a Volkswagon bus headliner.  Any chance you could post a video of your design in action?  If so, let us know where to look for it.

Thanks for the ingenuity
Grandpajoe
Strider30195 years ago
If that's to scale, I think you mean 3-1/2" long.  I used 2-1/2, and may have rotated about the 'x' 180°, but it seems to still work exceptionally well.  Excellent design!
grandpajoe (author)  Strider30195 years ago

Thanks Strider...Good catch.  I always try to make my mistakes in triplicate so that at least one of the three prersons seeing it will catch the error and help me correct it.  In this case it took over 7,000 views before it was noted.  I have now made the change to show the measurement as 3-1/2".  As you have seen, this exact measurement is not very critical, but it should at least match the illustration.

Thanks for the insight 
Grandpajoe
 

texas20105 years ago
Worked like a charm and made it cheaper than a store bought one!  With 2 10' lengths, a bit of skill in maneuvering is required, but you'll pick it up quickly.  I decided to give it a try before I had put the plastic slide on and it worked so well I just kept going without.  It did require more back and forth to guide the blocks down w/out the plastic. 
grandpajoe (author)  texas20105 years ago
Thanks Texas for the great comment.  Hopefully your example will encourage others to post their insight and suggestions.  Even better than that would be for these stories to be shared with local news agencies.  In 1993, this was Salt Lake City's story. Today it is the story of the east coast's 100 year storm and those struggling to recover from it.  If this type of story can be shared widely enough, who knows how many roof falls and injuries can be avoided.  In 1993 media outlets such as YouTube and Twitter did not exist.   It just took one call to the Deseret News and one to KSL television to start the reaction.  Today, a brief home video could be uploaded and provide this information to many others while still in the moment of need. 

Thanks again and good luck,
Grandpajoe
g chord6 years ago
Nice. I have a cabin in duck creek and the !st year I got 24 feet of snow. Cool truckto is that an old Jeep, what year
grandpajoe (author)  g chord6 years ago
It is a 1951 Willys pickup. It started out as a project for our boys. We ended up purchasing three trucks to get the right parts to make one. We have taken it down to the Easter Jeep Safari in Moab several times. It has the original 4 cylinder overhead/flathead (F-head) engine and running gear. Thanks for your comment...
Awsome car! I love cars they're amazing. like the color too. maybe you could install a larger engine like a 8 or 6 cylinder and then make it 4 wheel drive! That would be cool!!! Good work rebuilding it does it run smooth?
wow good work
geetz6 years ago
Very cool. Could have used this recently. My design sucks in comparison.
ChrysN6 years ago
Neat idea, we recently got a huge dump of snow and it just keeps coming down, I'm starting to worry about our roof.