With winter officially here in the northern part of the US, you should understand how snow and ice can impact your roof and the potential problems they can bring.

A typical commercial roof not only includes the surface membrane and the deck it’s attached or adhered to, but layers of other materials such as insulation, thermal barriers and cover boards. The roof assembly itself can be “connected” to the building by beams, trusses, purlins or other support components. In short, it’s a multifaceted assembly that, although not fragile, can be displaced by the weight of accumulated show and ice.

In the wintertime, it’s common for the news to carry stories of building collapses because of the volume of snow and ice that’s collected on the rooftop. And it really should be no surprise, given these numbers:

According to FEMA, in its Snow Load Safety Guide, a cubic foot of light dry snow weighs about 3 pounds and a cubic foot of wet heavy snow weighs about 21 pounds. Just an inch-thick layer of ice, which is much denser and heavier than even wet heavy snow, weighs nearly five pounds per square foot. A cubic foot of ice can weigh almost 60 pounds. On the rooftop, a relatively small 10-foot by 10-foot area covered by 3 inches of ice can weigh 1,500 pounds. This scenario isn’t out of the question, as temperature changes that allow snow to melt then refreeze can turn small amounts of snow into perilous volumes of ice.

You may see signs of too much weight on your roof inside your building in the form of doors or windows that are wedged shut, or cracks that appear in walls or ceilings.

Obviously, as snow accumulates on your rooftop over the winter, you should keep an eye on the depth, and whether freeze-and-thaw cycles have created ice problems. If you have a maintenance crew, have them remove it – safely! – with tools that won’t damage the roof surface. Have them pay particular attention to drainage systems so that they are clear to handle snow melt.

At Complete Commercial Roofing, we would welcome the opportunity to discuss your wintertime roofing needs with you. Please contact us at your convenience at 877-227-5552.

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