Snow Build-up on Flat Roofs

Snow accumulation after a snowstorm can be a disaster in the making. Before the snowstorms, there are certain preventive measures that can lessen the likeliness of these problems occurring but it doesn’t take away all of them. It is best to monitor the thickness of the snow and ice your flat roofs are accumulating as there can be dangers that can develop. 

Snow Build-up on Flat Roofs

1. These accumulated snow can damage your drainage system 

As the snow melts, it passes through your drainage pipes, there are areas that are warm enough to just keep this melt flowing but for exterior pipes that are subject to this cold weather, the melts will eventually refreeze, clogging your pipes and might eventually break or damage your drainage system. 

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2. These accumulated snow are excess weight

Your flat roof is designed to carry snow load, but the snow’s weight typically depends on its moisture content which is why some snow build-ups are much heavier than the others. This excess weight, when leftover time and is not drained, will damage your structural stability as well as penetrate through your waterproofing membrane, roofing insulation and all the way to your ceiling. 

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3. These accumulated snow can form into ice dams and icicles 

If your roof is not well-insulated, the interior heat can penetrate through your roof and make sudden snow melts which will run off to the edges and eventually refreeze, which is also known as ice dams. Some of it might even turn into icicles on the edges which impose danger of falling that can injure the passing people. 

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4. These accumulated snow can damage waterproofing membrane 

Once the snow damages your waterproofing membrane, there is no turning back. The moisture or the melts themselves will penetrate through the roofing which can damage roofing insulation, your ceiling and eventually your structure’s stability. 

What to look out for during a snowstorm?

1. Saggy Ceiling 

It sometimes can be seen by looking at sprinkler heads which are lower than usual if the escutcheon tape falls down, your ceiling might be sagging due to the excess weight. 

2. Unusual Sound 

Cracking or Popping sounds may indicate an overstressed roof. 

3. Wall Cracks 

The structure is designed to carry the top load and transfer it through the columns, where your walls are attached. Wall cracks may indicate an overloaded roof. 

4. Jammed Doors or Windows 

If all of a sudden your doors are now hard to close, are now touching the floor or it's hard to open, this can indicate that the wall has acquired an excess load. 

5. Leaking 

The waterproofing membrane, as well as your roofing insulation, have been compromised and the snow melts are now penetrating your structure. 

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What to do and when to remove the accumulated snow or ice?

You have to consider how long this snowstorm will last as it will indicate how much your flat roof will accumulate. First is to know the load capacity of your roof, and estimate the weight of the snow by its thickness if it's getting close to its capacity, it is time to remove the snow or ice. 

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Practice safety, follow necessary safety regulations or rules and wear safety garments. Use the proper equipment and tools for removing the snow and ice. Also it is much better to contact and hire experienced roofing contractors to perform the snow removal.