Winter has arrived in the northern part of the US and with it, accumulating snow. As a responsible building owner or manager, you’ll take the necessary steps to keep your property clear of snow to allow access for staff, customers, and other visitors. But what about snow on your rooftop? It’s not visible, so you’re less likely to manage it. Here is some advice for handling snow on your commercial roof.
- Pay attention to it. A square foot of wet, heavy snow that’s six inches deep can weigh 10 pounds. Multiply that across (for example) a 5,000-square-foot roof and you’ve got 50,000 extra pounds of roof weight that your building structure needs to support.
- Light, drifting snow is probably not likely to pose much of a problem; normal wind patterns should blow most of it away. But if a storm has dumped a load of heavier snow on your roof, you probably should take steps to remove it.
- When you’re on your commercial roof in the wintertime, be extra cautious. Being on a roof during non-snow seasons can be hazardous enough, but dangers are multiplied in the winter. Surfaces will be more slippery, and skylights may be covered with snow and not visible. Ponding water from seasonal storms can depress and weaken sections of your roof that have poor drainage. These areas are less obvious when the roof is snow-covered.
- When clearing snow, make sure to drop it to the ground away from walkways and building entrances and exits. And use tools that won’t harm the roof surface, such as plastic roof rakes or shovels; avoid sharp-edged tools, as they can puncture roof membranes.
- Make sure that the snowmelt has a place to go by clearing snow and other debris from the areas around your drainage points. It’s likely that there will be freeze-and-thaw cycles during the winter, and if your drains, gutters, and downspouts are blocked, water will have no place to go. If its re-freezes, keep this in mind: an area of only 100 square feet that’s got three inches of ice on it can weigh 1,500 pounds. If you need to use an ice-melt product, check with the roof manufacturer to get one that won’t harm the surface.
At Tusing Builders and Roofing Services, we’re standing by and ready to assist you with your commercial roofing needs, regardless of the season. It would be our privilege to serve you.