Introduction: The Snow Ripper - Rip Snow From Your Roof in Minutes. 1/2 Snow Rake - 1/2 Ripper / Cutter.

Picture of The Snow Ripper - Rip Snow From Your Roof in Minutes.  1/2 Snow Rake - 1/2 Ripper / Cutter.

Easily remove snow from your roof.

After receiving over 50 inches of snow this winter and you are like me you went to the local hardware store to find a snow rake for the roof.  Only to be told they are sold out.

Well necessity being the mother of invention forced me to make my own.
So hear is my first attempt at an instructable.

Parts list and cost file attached below.

Step 1: Step 1

Picture of Step 1

Cut two 12” pipes using the Schedule 40, 1 in. x 10 ft. PVC.
At the left side I marked each pipe with a 12.

Step 2: Step 2

Picture of Step 2

Cut two 25” pipes using the Schedule 40, 1/2 in. x 10 ft. PVC.
I marked each pipe with a 12, 13 and 25 inch marking.

Step 3: Step 3

Picture of Step 3

Take a rubber mallet and bang in both 12” pipes into each end of the tee.  On the back side of the tee place a screw to hold each 12” PVC pipe in place.

Step 4: Step 4

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Measure in 2 1/2” from each end on the main header.

Step 5: Step 5

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Drill a 7/8” hole through the top to the bottom with a hole saw. Set the header on two spare 2x4’s to allow easier drilling.  Note:  Do not use a hole bit they make a mess and chew up the PVC pipe.

Step 6: Step 6

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Slide the 25” x ½” PVC pipes through the header to the 12” mark. Screw in a hex head screw at the 12” mark. This allows the post to stop at 12”.

Step 7: Step 7

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Duct tape the ends of the ½ inch PVC pipes to keep snow out of the ends.

Step 8: Step 8

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Take the sheet metal and cut out a notch according to the photo and screw into the 1” header and ½” support pipes using 10 screws. Measure from the right 11 1/8 inches and to 12 7/8 inches. Mark these measurements. Measure 1 inch in as seen in the photo.  Cut with sheet metal shears the two line.  Bend the cut piece to 90 degrees.

Step 9: Step 9

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Take a hack saw to the other end of the ½” pipe and notch out a “V” grove to each post.
Insert the chain across each V Grove and screw into each side as shown in the photo.

Step 10: Step 10

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Add a Schedule 40, 1 in. x 10 ft. PVC pole into the tee and screw the pole into the handle. Duct tape the chain ends.  

Copyright 2011

Step 11: Snow Ripper II - the Upgrade - for $20.00 More

Picture of Snow Ripper II - the Upgrade - for $20.00 More

Hi All,

I had a few comments about the pole so here I am trying to address them.
Some thought the pole might be to flexible. 

As you know our hardware stores are running out of shovels, snow rakes, speedy melt, and anything used for snow removal.

With this economy I am still trying to keep a functional tool as well as cost effective.

So off to find a sturdier / lightweight pole. 
I came up with a painter extension pole $17.97.  Problem is I could not find a nut large enough to fit the thread at the end of the pole.  So I bought a small roller handle for $1.97.

Step 12: Step 11

Picture of Step 11

Remove the 10 foot PVC Pole and place the Snow Ripper head on the table with the top of the tee facing up.  Mark the center of the tee and drill a 7/8 hole in the middle as shown below.  This will allow the painters pole to be attached to the Snow Ripper head.

Step 13: Step 12

Picture of Step 12

Take your paint roller and cut off the metal portion using a hack saw that holds the roller on as seen in the photo.

Step 14: Step 13

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Slide the extension pole through the hole of the Snow Ripper head and screw on the roller handle to lock the head in place as seen below.  You can use a washer if you have one.

Step 15: Step 14

Picture of Step 14

You are now ready to use your Snow Ripper II with a sturdier pole.
8' to 16' in length.

Step 16: Videos Page

Picture of Videos Page
Snow Ripper - Ripped The Shed

Snow Ripper - Ripped The Office - 2

Snow Ripper - Ripped The Office - 3

The Snow Ripper



JohnnyS4 (author)2015-03-23

I have been worried about the amount of snow piling up on my roof this year. This looks like a way to get rid of it really easy. It also seems pretty easy to build. Thanks again for the great idea.

don.plouffe (author)2015-02-17

that is awesome.. but I just found one at Rockys Ace Hardware..wish I had seen this first.. but will prob have someone make me one.. sharing to friends.. thanks

park47 (author)2012-10-14

Thanks .... interesting PVC joints which will be useful for my future projects ... :)

davintosh (author)2012-01-14

That's a great design; pretty sure I've got all the materials sitting around my garage & shed to make one. Now if only it would snow more than 1/4" at a time... (what am I saying?!?!)

billbach (author)davintosh2012-01-14

Thanks Davintosh. I hope it helps. Be careful what you wish for. :)

Greasetattoo (author)2011-03-04

Congrats on the WIN!

I made one, and it works sooo good!
Thank you, Thank you...

You should get a patent on this idea, you could make millions!!!

billbach (author)Greasetattoo2011-03-04

Thanks Greasetattoo,

I put it out there to help people with the same problem I had. Glad it helped.

Happy snow removal,

Heraldo (author)2011-02-10

I'm sure glad I live in Tucson AZ!!

Tomcat94 (author)Heraldo2011-02-21

Just don't leave there for some California grass...

Heraldo (author)Tomcat942011-02-21

After living in Massachusetts for 30 years, and Tucson for 27, I think my "grass" days are behind me in the 60's & 70's...

I sent the snow ripper info to one of my brothers up there. My large (8) Irish family still all live less than an hour or two from Springfield; where we grew up COLD!

Bunch of nuts!

Tomcat94 (author)Heraldo2011-02-22

I was making a (rather stupid) joke; it was a reference to "Get Back", by The Beatles...

Heraldo (author)Tomcat942011-02-22

Hi Tomcat94,

Went right over my thick Irish skull...

Not the first or last time, either!!!  The joke was not stupid - in  fact, I have that Beatle's vinyl; believe it or not.  Right next to Buffalo Springfield and a bunch of other albums that are probably warped by now (more than then...).

Thanks for the laugh.

billbach (author)Heraldo2011-02-21

Hi Heraldo. I hope your family enjoyed the snow ripper. Send us some of that nice AZ weather.

Heraldo (author)billbach2011-02-21

Hi Bill, nicely done INSTRUCTABLE! Have not spoken to my bro recently, so I am not sure he used the snow ripper...when I sent it to him, I called and he had just finished chopping a 12" x 12" block of ice from the top of a downspout and had others to do. He also owns a vacation home on the Maine coast that is right on the water and consequently gets blasted. One house is enough trouble for me. Even in Tucson, it got below 20O for a couple of nights here and my water pipes froze even though protected. Also happened at my son's home here. Good thing all my Uncle's are Plumbers!!!

Giesterfarher (author)2011-02-06

I just coat my roof with Cooking Spray. That way the snow falls off on it's own. ;)

I've got a better idea: I have metal roofs on the house and garage. The snow rolls off when it's good and ready with a mighty roar. It's much lighter than shingles and I even got a energy rebate cuz it reflects some sun in the summer.

A rolling off with a Mighty Roar is all well and good, unless your kids are in the yard at the time. ;)

We have snow catchers over the doors so that doesn't happen, and anywhere else you just don't want to be under there when it happens. Which is once a month or less on the shady side; some years it just stays up until spring. On the sunny side, it rolls off very sloooooowly and continuously when the sun warms it.

The kids being in the yard when it goes with a Mighty Roar sounds like a plus not a detriment to me.

I guess, if you don't like your kids. (Unless it's the neighbors kids you mean. ;)

rocart (author)Giesterfarher2011-02-07

Yours is a "double" Instructable: the pigeons are already coated and ready for the grill! Perhaps a bit of salt and pepper for seasoning...

billbach (author)Giesterfarher2011-02-06

I like the idea. LOL.

FN632489 (author)2011-02-10

I used a regular rake, one that is used for moving soil, not leafs. I used the points to cut the ice, then the flat side ti "sweep" the ice and snow off. Worked great. (author)2011-02-09

I made one of these snow rippers following the instructions. It did a fantastic job on my roofs. I had no problem with the PVC being cut at the end. It did not scratch my roof at all. I felt the pole and head were very lightweight; it was exactly what I was looking for. Nice job to the inventor for this! Thanks so much for posting it online.

I had 4 feet of snow on my roofs, but not anymore! I would recommend this to anyone...especially since snow rakes are sold out and the Home Depots and Lowes in my area are charging too much for a dowel and a piece of wood fastened together.

NightLord (author)2011-02-09

Maybe you should look at this (if the snow isn't frozen)

(nevertheless, good idea and nice project)

billbach (author)2011-02-08

Hi All,

Thanks for the great support and the many of you that have forgiven my use of a ladder. I have put up a website for anyone who would like to visit.

I'm still doing snow. But now it is for helping others. My properties are done.

Lastly a BIG thanks to instructables for having such a great forum to express our ideas.

Col Mark (author)2011-02-08

If I were making this I would rrecommend the following modifications. First, I would use Schedule 80 pipe (the Grey stuff) as it has a thicker wall thickness with male and female threaded adapters so you can hand screw longer lengths together. Ideally metal (conduit) is better but watch those electrical drops please. Second, you don’t want to be scraping the gravel off the shingles or snagging your heat cable if it is installed, so install some rollers on the scraper. Third, a plastic “Slip-n-Slide” type of sheet affixed to your snow rake will help you in getting the snow off. The snow will slide down the sheet when you are pushing your rake up the roof. That will save you the work of pulling the snow down. Down side is having the sheet draped on the ground. Fourth, NEVER NEVER NEVER use a ladder as demonstrated in the video. Always face a ladder towards your work area and don’t lean over the side. Move your ladder often. This is the voice of experience taking here. Double ruptured disc emergency surgery last April from ladder accident. Be safe and enjoy the spiked Egg Nog when the job is well done rather than a morphine drip, Nuff Said? Last but not least, before applying any type of “Jerry Baker” type of coating to your roof make sure there is a chemical compatibility. Shingles are hi-tech products and as such use chemicals in their manufacturing process. So I hope my two cents helps here.

mattb5 (author)2011-02-06

LOL That is awesome. I was driving down the street the other day and saw a guy with a roof rake on a ladder and was wondering what the guy on the ground was doing with a camera. Howdy neighbor!

billbach (author)mattb52011-02-07

Too funny.
Smile your on candid camera.

trike road poet (author)2011-02-06

Seriously great i'ble, and timely!
I was shopping down at the local Home Depot for some tubing for a project, and three guys in a group there were looking at sheets of paper and picking up PVC fittings and lengths of tube. They were building their own roof rakes and what caught my eye was the orange header on the top sheet. Yep it was an Instructable, that header is way too easy to see!

They were all building the same item, and they were laughing at how much money they were saving over the cost of 'professional' (and right now unavailable) help! They left the plumbing section for hardware and chain, and only later I find this i'ble. Not sure if it was yours they were building, but Instructables is going to help a lot of folks out this winter with the shared information so freely given out here.
Instructables deserves a few awards for the service done for ordinary folks who share tricks, tips, and knowledge so everyone can benefit. Way to go!

billbach (author)trike road poet2011-02-06

Hi trike,

That is way too funny. Hopefully it was my instructable they were building. In some way I hope I have helped a few people out. It is not perfect but it does get the job done.

Thank you for your great comment.

trike road poet (author)billbach2011-02-06

What does show it that thanks to Instructables, a lot of folks are able to trade ideas and projects in a way that let them share without cost or restrictions. A simple idea like the roof rake means homeowners are cleaning their roofs for pennies on the dollar. I saw a new article of some 90+ houses in the northeast had their roofs collapsed from snow load.

An idea shared here gives homeowners as simple way to keep their own homes safer. Instructables has done more by simply being here then a lot of experts who price their help out of range. Your idea was simple, clean and well presented, easy to make and use.

As a Minnesotan, I know all too well the mess snow can bring, and your idea was a first rate project. I printed it out and shared it with some of my neighbors who are homeowners, (I live in an apartment.)

Now if someone would create a cheap snow melter so that snow could be melted and sent down the storm drains! What a neat 'neighborhood project that would be.

lr10cent (author)2011-02-06

If you're going to use PVC, suggest you use pipe cement with it to secure the pipe in the fittings. Will be a lot stronger. Good for you for not giving up. I was at the lumberyard the other day and tried to convince a couple of people that they could make something to use as a roof rake. In fact, they could have made a fantastic roof rake as the yard had some magnesium tube sections for getting a concrete float all the way to the middle of a large pour. Maybe a bit expensive, I admit.

The chain idea is clever. I wonder if a metal cable might not work even better, as it would be easier to pull through the snow. Might be good to have a smooth edge on the metal in case you get all the way down to the roof. Maybe roll it over at a 1/2 inch radius or something? Maybe make the pipes stick out an inch further and put on pipe caps to let it glide instead of gouge.

I managed to secure a roof rake and a 5 foot extension. Using them together, they're about as stiff as a noodle. Since this house has 2 stories, that still wasn't long enough, so I added an 8 foot aluminum tube, 1-1/4 inch OD. The extension was wrapped with tape to just fit inside the tube, with about a foot overlap. That makes the total length something like 28 feet. I drilled a hole and used a shortened nail to pin them together, wrapped with tape to hold it in. Works well, though it's harder to lift. I happened to have a big snow pile near the house. Raised it to 6 feet, put a board on top, and I can reach all the way to the center of the roof with this pole. Unfortunately not the entire ridge, but pretty close to most of it. I have a small sailboat mast I could use, but I don't think I'm strong enough to use it for very long. If I was, I could reach the center of that roof from ground level.

Making a handle with that aluminum tube would probably be a good way to go. It's a good idea to wax the business end of any snow removal equipment. Makes the snow stick less. Butcher's wax or car wax will do. I suspect furniture wax or silicone spray would also work. Rubbing with paraffin is ok too.

billbach (author)lr10cent2011-02-06

Hi lr10cent,

Thanks for the great suggestions. Love the creativity. That's what this site is about. It's nice to see someone focus on the ideas to expand and make a better tool.

I thought of using the PVC cement but the screws made it easy to repair if a part broke. As luck has it I broke one 12" pipe. I took a left over pipe and repaired it in 5 minutes. Then back to work.

I looked at using cable but it I thought it would be more complex to install. I can screw in the chain. How would you attach a cable? I used the chain because of use in creating trails for snowmobiles and also used in baseball to smooth out fields. Pipe caps are a good idea. As much as I have used it I try not to let it touch the roof. I like to leave and inch on the roof and let the sun melt the rest. Waxing the end is also a good idea.

Thank you and good luck with your snow removal.

lr10cent (author)billbach2011-02-06

You've got a point about the repairability.

You can get these little clamps for the cable. It could be as simple as using the clamp to make a loop to slip over the pipe, although then you'd have to hold it from sliding up and down. Or you could just drill a hole through the pipe, pass the cable through the hole, and put a clamp on the far side. You'd probably want to stuff some foam into the pipe first so that snow didn't get in there. With a small cable, you can actually tie a knot, but that's kind of messy. You could probably use some 1/8" nylon braided line, but it wouldn't last very long.

Be careful with that chain! A local model airplane club was put out of operation some years ago around here. They'd requested the property owner put up something to keep out vandals. The owner put up a chain which apparently wasn't terribly visible. After a nighttime snowmobiler lost his head (literally), the lawsuits started. So hang visible stuff on that chain!

I am almost done, but I decided I was too sore to keep going. 28 feet of snow rake is pretty tiring to handle, but I didn't want to walk around up there. I find it tricky, when working at that distance, to leave just a thin layer of snow. Once in a while I end up scraping the roof a little bit.

I don't know if it's too late to invest in Naproxen futures.

Again, thanks for the idea with the chain. If we have another big storm coming, it may be worth a try. Maybe I'll test it at first by just using coat hangar wire.
I notice a comment by someone else that these kind of things are always best left to the pros. I'd say that depends on one's budget, one's abilities, and the quality of the local pros. It also depends on the load vs the strength of the roof. If the roof collapses, that's a lot more trouble than replacing shingles. Or it may be easier to replace a few shingles than to repair extensive water damage to plaster and who knows what else from ice dams. So one might not want to wait for the pro.

Cables and snow guards work, but a cold, well ventilated attic helps too, although not so much with the possible structural issues.

I remember, from when I was a child, watching a "pro" construction guy working on a ladder. He left his hammer on top of the ladder when he moved it. It fell off and hit him on the head. This happened more than once! Of course, I've seen really impressive, competent, fast pros too. And I once even got paid to help on a roofing job. Shingles are heavy!

kojak (author)2011-02-06

Having grown up in South Florida, this FOG (fat, old guy) had absolutely no idea that snow on a roof might need to be removed. As insulated as I am, I never really thought that snow would get that high. But watching the video, I figured the problem is exacerbated with layers of snow turning to ice.

But then again, living where you do, I guess I could teach you folks a couple of things about how to install hurricane shutters single handed. (sigh)

I did get a chuckle out of the irony of the Rent Florida Villas sign in the video.

billbach (author)kojak2011-02-06

Hi Kojak,

Ya the snow is crazy deep. We have had over 70 inches dumped on us. 3 to 4 feet standing on our homes, add rain, sleet, and turn it to ice means a nasty winter.

Feel free to recommend our villa in Florida to your friends. A great place to stay.

Take care and thanks for your comments.

SJU87 (author)2011-02-06 snowblowing roof! I saw a picture once of a snowblower that went through the roof. I think your way is better

Looks like a good 'ible! I've been shoveling as we have a very long roof line, but fortunately not too steep a pitch. I could use this on the short steep stretch to push snow off. I've been a little hesitant to get onto that section of roof because it is coated with ice and a 25' drop to the driveway.

I've used the "insert a wooden dowel" trick and it works well. You can secure with a screw through the PVC. I'll have to try the expanding foam too. It helps if the dowel goes across the PVC joints. It adds some weight but that may help break through crust.

billbach (author)SJU872011-02-06

Love the snowblower on the roof. Too funny.

allangee (author)2011-02-06

Just so everyone knows... roofers LOVE these scrapers because most people try to get right down to the shingles.

If you're scraping the actual shingles, you're removing the aggregate (those itty bitty rocks). The aggregate is what protects the tar/asphalt part of the shingle from weather damage -- especially UV.

Snow removal is better than a collapse (which only tends to happen in older, poorly built/engineered, low-slope structures)... but leaving an inch or two of snow is not only okay, it's recommended.

Nice project! But like any tool, use it wisely.

billbach (author)allangee2011-02-06

Hi allangee,

Thanks for the tip. You are correct. Try to get most of the snow off the roof. Leave a one inch layer and the sun will do the rest.


cwheit (author)allangee2011-02-06

If the chain was mounted through a hole in the pipe about 2" from the end, and the pipe that the sheet metal mounted to was 2" longer, (and use caps instead of duct tape.) That would give you something of a guard to prevent actually getting down to the shingles and help keep the ends from tearing up the aggregate as well. N'est pas?

Sabata (author)cwheit2011-02-06

That is exactly what I was thinking. Use PVC end caps to keep the scraper blade from touching the shingles. Getting most of that weight off is the important part so it won't matter if you leave ~1/2" of snow on the roof. The thing would probably work smoother as well.

j2gcarter (author)2011-02-06

Great ides, just one cautionary note. Always set you ladder so that you climb towards the work. The way that Bill has his ladder set he could easily be knocked over by a load of heavy snow. By turning the ladder 90 degrees he will be much more stable.

billbach (author)j2gcarter2011-02-06

Hi j2gcarter,

You are a hundred percent correct. I have started to turn the ladder. I was just too tired. I am at the point of surrender with the snow. LOL.

Thank you for your concern. Muchly appreciated.

nerys (author)j2gcarter2011-02-06

thats pretty slick man!! one suggestion if you have a low roof like that? get a chain long enough to "toss over" the roof to the other side then both of you "walk and saw" the entire room one side to the other the whole length.

then use your scraper to yank chunks off. Double agree climb INTO your work not "perpendicular" to your work. asking to be knocked over :-)

some rigidity so you can do it from "ground" level would be cool too.!!

kevinhannan (author)2011-02-06

If I had the wonders of a double garage (read workshop) - it would be my wife clearing the roof while I make more wonderful gadgets! This is a nice 'ible - I reckon we should embrace equality more often and have the wife shifting all that white stuff... ;-)

rbbiggs (author)2011-02-06

My Dad would make me get up on the roof and shovel it.

Mike44 (author)2011-02-06

Hey I like the idea of the chain! My dad bought one of these snowscrapers from the store, but it was just the blade. The chain makes simple work of cutting so you don't have to pull as much!! Cool!

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