Heavy snow loads on roofs can lead to building damage and collapse. Commercial, residential buildings, carports, and awnings can be affected. As winter storms loom, property owners and residents should be aware of the weight or snow load these storms may be creating, especially on flat roofs.
After the storm
A snow event is not necessarily a single large snowstorm. A snow event can be a series of storms that result in additional snow loads on a building. Having snow on your roof isn’t always a bad thing. It’s the type of snow that matters. Wet or densely packed snow is much heavier than freshly fallen snow and if left on the roof, snow can turn into ice, creating ice dams, a sagging roof, leaks, or even causing the roof to collapse.
On the Roof
Instead of climbing on the slippery roof, we recommend using a snow rake. attempting to remove snow from a roof is more hazardous than beneficial, falls from roofs and possible exposure to electrical wires while on the roof are serious hazards. If snow loads become too great for you to safely handle, call in a professional for assistance.
- Roof Health. Inspect roofs for leaks or structural deficiencies that may have developed during the storm. Signs of possible roof failure include doors or windows not properly working, irregular ceiling finishes, or actual roof leaks.
- Solar Panels. Solar panels can offer a tricky proposition. It can be dangerous to try to scrape ice off the panels, so leave that job to your solar panel provider.
- Ice Damns. A word about ice damns. Ice dams are formed when ice builds To prevent ice dams from forming in the first place be sure to regularly rake your roof and consider installing heat cables. If an ice damn does develop, use these tips to remove it:
- Use a chip and hammer
- Pour warm water over the dam
- Get better attic insulation and ventilation
- Use an ice dam sock
On the Ground
- Gutters/Drains. Make certain gutters, drains, and downspouts are clear of ice and debris. Clear areas around downspouts to allow the water from the melting snow has a path to flow away from the house or building.
- Vents/Exhausts. Clear snow and ice away from exhaust vents that go through exterior walls.
- Decks. Clear decks of snow to reduce stress on them.
- Icicles. You may think that knocking down icicles is a smart move for maintaining your roof, in reality, removing icicles can break or damage gutters, downspouts, or other elements of the roof.
Flat Roof Considerations
Owners and residents of flat-roof buildings are urged to be aware of the possible snow load danger. The threat from the weight of heavy snow will remain for some time after the storm ends if cold temperatures are expected after the storm. Weather conditions won’t allow much melting to occur.
Though it may seem counterintuitive, one of the best ways to keep snow off of your roof is by keeping your roof cold. This stops snow and ice from sticking, melting, and refreezing on your rooftop.
If you have suffered storm damage to your property, contact your Avery agent to discuss your options.