Think it’s too early to worry about snow? Think again.

Think it’s too early to worry about snow? Think again.

Think it’s too early to worry about snow? Think again. https://pbroofingco.com/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/shoveling-snow-to-safely-remove-snow-from-rooftop.jpg 1280 854 PB Roofing PB Roofing https://secure.gravatar.com/avatar/72bbcaa13c96696aa67b32e95ad07453?s=96&d=mm&r=g

As the Northeast enters the fall season, there is no better time than now to begin planning for the extreme winter weather in the months ahead. According to the The Farmer’s Almanac, the Northeast is due for “above-average” snowfall this winter season.

You’ll need to be sure that your roof is ready to handle these conditions. That means, your gutters and roof drains should be clear, and the rooftop is clear of all debris. Heavy snowfall and freeze-thaw cycles can quickly create dangerous conditions for your commercial roof. A potential roof collapse can result in hazardous damage to your building and those inside.

Hazardous Conditions, Seasoned Pros

A flat roof can potentially collect several feet of snow throughout the winter months. Snow can cause damage to the internal structure and cause safety risks at ground level, which is the liability of the property owner. Consequently, roof snow should always be removed. However, it should be done strategically, and not haphazardly. Damage can easily occur to the roofing membrane and roof-mounted utilities if the project is not completed by a professional. Experienced commercial roofers like PB Roofing have the tools and the know-how to get the job done safely, with precision and without disrupting your daily operations.

There are many negative effects of unmanaged snow on your commercial roof, but you can avoid them if you act now:

Preventative Rooftop Maintenance

Our expert technicians will survey your roof for potential deficiencies that can worsen during the winter months and recommend solutions. NRCA recommends making sure the roof is properly insulated and attics are properly vented. Insufficient insulation and venting can contribute to the melting of snow closest to the roof surface and can cause an ice dam, or an accumulation of frozen water at the edge of the roof that prevents water from running off.

Added Weight

One cubic foot of snow may weigh from seven pounds to 30 pounds. This is not considering that if it subsequently rains or sleets on a snowy roof, the weight will significantly increase. Due to these weight variations, it is vital that your roof be monitored by our professionals during and after winter storms. Windy conditions can result in added snow and cause it to unevenly disperse from one flat roof plane to another.

Internal Building Strain

FEMA provides a list of signs that indicate a building may be too stressed by the snow load.

  • Ceiling problems: A ceiling that appears to sag, or sprinkler lines and sprinkler heads that look lower than normal.
  • Unusual noises: Creaking, popping, and cracking can be a sign of a stressed roof.
  • Door and window problems: If a door or window can no longer be opened or closed it may be a sign the roof or walls have shifted under the weight of snow.
  • Wall problems: Drywall, masonry and other wall materials may crack under pressure from an overloaded roof.
  • Restricted Access Points: Excessive snow accumulation can block access to the roof hatch, this may require our PB Team find another method of reaching a roof to remove the snow itself. Reliance on secondary access points such as ladder usage in adverse weather conditions is not recommended and reduces the safety of the overall project.

Frozen & Clogged Roof Drainage

Unremoved snow ultimately melts and moves into the roof drainage system. External drainage systems cannot retain enough heat in the winter to prevent water re-freezing inside. The expansion of this ice within the pipes severely damages the drainage system. Gutters become congested with snow and ice, exceeding their maximum weight capacity, causing them to bend or dislodge. This allows melted snow to flow directly down the sides of the external structure, leading to possible concerns with the masonry, siding, and/or the foundation.

Roofing Membrane Damage

The freeze and thaw cycle can deteriorate the quality of roof membranes. As thermal expansion occurs, drastic shifts in temperature from day to night affect the exposed roof. When the roof absorbs heat from the sun, the materials can expand, pushing against its own seams, causing gaps. This process then reverses during lower night temperatures. Water is then free to work its way into minor crevices and weaknesses in the roof membrane, worsening the condition as it re-freezes and expands. As this cycle occurs daily, the damage can become serious.

Roof Utilities & Accessories (HVAC, Gas Lines, Skylights, Vents, Flashing & Electrical Conduits)

A building’s HVAC system may fail to operate if it becomes covered in ice and snow, which can pile up on the aluminum fan and bend the blades. If this occurs, the HVAC unit might produce strange noises while operating, and the fan blades can potentially shatter.

Water can puddle around external equipment such as skylights, vents, and flashing whose caulking or insulations are susceptible to the same type of freeze / re-freeze damage as the roofing membrane. Gas lines and electrical conduits can also become brittle in extremely low temperatures, leading to damage or improper functionality. Frozen pipes result in obstructions, which will gradually back up in the direction of the source.

Icicle Formations

While ice falling long distances can be fatal, ice doesn’t have to fall from tall structures to cause damage. Icicles detaching from buildings can often be enough to cause lacerations, head injuries, broken bones, and even death in rare cases. In addition, dripping water from melting icicles may pool on the ground below and refreeze, creating a serious slip-and-fall hazard.

Stay a Step Ahead with PB Roofing

Now that you understand the many potential hazards of snowfall, you can be proactive about protecting your structure and safeguarding its integrity. Contact us today and schedule a THREATCheck assessment. After we’ve confirmed your roof is ready to withstand a harsh winter, we can then respond to winter storms as they occur with our skilled snow removal crews and protect the value of your roofing investment for years to come.

Resources:

NRCA Snow Remediation in Roofing

FEMA Snow Load Safety Guide

Roofing Contractor Magazine: Harsh Winters & Severe Weather Events

PB Roofing Co.