The snow, hail and ice that comes with the winter season can be damaging to your commercial roof. If this is your first winter owning a commercial building, it's important that you understand how to deal with these hazards. This is particularly important because the weight of the snow and ice can be significant. Especially if your commercial building is outfitted with a flat roof, you'll want to be proactive about dealing with the threat of snow. Here are some things you should know to help you address some of the most common hazards that the winter season can bring.
Understanding Snow's Threat to Commercial Structures
Snow accumulation on a flat roof can be a far more serious concern than some business owners understand. Flat commercial roofing doesn't allow snow to slide off the same way that sloped roofing can. To fully comprehend why proactive response is so important, you'll need to know the kind of hazard it can really pose.
- Leaks - The accumulation of snow on your roof leads to a lot of pressure from the weight. When you pair that with water accumulation from snow melt, you're facing the risk of serious leaks in your roofing. Even the smallest crack or flaw in the roof can lead to serious damage inside, including electrical problems, mold and other damage.
- Roof Collapse - Structural collapse is the worst-case scenario, but it is a real risk. While a snowfall of a couple of inches may not be a significant threat, the accumulation of several storms or a very heavy snowstorm may pose a real concern if the roof has any structural weakness to it. After all, a cubic foot of snow can weigh as much as 20 pounds, which can add up to a lot of weight across an entire roof.
Can You Protect the Roof?
There are a few key things that you can do as a business owner to protect your building's roof from winter weather damage. Break up ice around the edges of the roof on a regular basis. The less it accumulates, the less risk you'll have of ice buildup. You might even find that you need to apply heat rope along the edges of the roof to keep ice at bay in severe weather.
In addition, you'll want to keep the snow from accumulating on the roof. The most effective means of doing this is with a snow rake. The rake will make it easier to pull snow off the roof. If you're not familiar with snow rakes, they are made from a flat aluminum or heavy plastic panel attached to a long, durable pole.
You'll want to use a ladder to reach the furthest points on the roof, but make sure you have a spotter to keep you safe while you're up there. Start at one corner of the building and work your way all the way around. Scrape the snow from the edge first, working your way in toward the middle. That way, you're dragging snow in small amounts to make it easier. Keep the flat blade of the snow rake on the roof at all times, though. That way, you don't risk having the blade of the rake fall off the edge of the roof. It can get heavy as you work, so this extra bit of caution can save you from struggling to get it back onto the roof.
As you can see, despite the fact that snow poses a very real risk to your flat commercial roof, there are things you can do to protect the building. The more proactive you are, the better off your building will be. If you aren't confident in your ability to do the work yourself, talk with a local commercial roofing contractor, such as Bell Roof Co, instead.