If you live where the snow falls, then chances are you worry from time to time about the snow that piles up on your roof. If your home has a steel roof, getting the snow off can be a little tricky. I will show you how to modify a roof shovel to handle steel roofs.

Things You Will Need

You will need two small phenolic-typle fixed casters, with approximately 1" diameter wheels. For fasteners, use eight 3/16 x 1" bolts and nuts. You'll need a cordless drill and some small wrenches or pliers.

Step 1

I live in the middle of a sheltered, forested area, and I have a low-pitch sheet-steel roof. Those two things add up to three big problems: heavy snow loads, ice dams, and dangerous icicles. My first winter here, I bought a roof shovel after the first big snow, and proceeded to shovel it off.

To my surprise, the shovel did not work; every time it came near the roof surface it would get hung up on the heads of the roof screws. This is not just a minor annoyance; jarring these screws causes them to lose their seal against the rib they are screwed against. Not a good situation!

Shovel Side View (38424)

Step 2

The solution is really simple, and costs less than $10. You need a set of wheels for your shovel!
Here's the geometry of the situation: we need to keep the bottom edge of the shovel away from the screw heads. In doing so, the material contacting the roof must not damage the finish. We need something with wheels to reduce friction, and plastic would be a good material choice. An ideal choice for a spacer is a small, fixed-style caster, placed at the bottom of the shovel blade. Shovel and Caster

Step 3

We need to offset the shovel bottom from the bottom of the rib, since this is where the wheels will be spending the most time. Give yourself at least a quarter inch or so above the tallest screw heads, just to be sure. I found that a couple of carefully placed caster wheels did the trick beautifully. These are really small casters; mine are about 1" diameter phenolic-type wheels. Make sure you get the fixed-wheel type of caster. Your local hardware store should carry something similar. Check that there are four mounting holes; you need the strength when connecting to the shovel.

Step 4

Here's a view of my installed caster, on one side of the shovel. You'll have to find the right spot for yours; just give yourself enough room to clear the screw heads. If you go too high there'll be too much snow left behind.

Shovel Bottom (38422)

Step 5

This view is from the inside of the shovel. Pre-drill the plastic for the bolts. Mine are 3/16" size, and trimmed down to length with my grinder after installation. These wheels have been installed for about a year now; if you look closely, small chips can be seen in the phenolic wheels. That's a nasty job up there on the roof!

Shovel Top
This little retro-fit has another benefit: when positioning your shovel, it glides across the roof easily, with minimal effort. I have found that much less exertion is required to clean off the roof.
Try it yourself, and let me know how it goes!

Tips & Warnings