How Much Snow Is Too Much Snow On A Flat Roof?

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During heavy snow events, many business owners start to wonder how much snow is too much snow for a flat roof. While there isn't a hard and fast answer to this question, there are factors that can be taken into consideration which can help you determine when it's time to seek help from a commercial roofing contractor. Some snow falls and snow events are more dangerous than others. Knowing which snow events to watch out for and what conditions can exacerbate a snow problem is an important part of maintaining your commercial building.

Deep, Heavy Snow

Fluffy snow, even deep fluffy snow, is less dense and weighs less than wet snow. The higher the outdoor temperature is when the snow falls, the wetter the snow will likely be. You can tell when snow is very wet by trying to form a snowball with your hands. If the snowball forms easily, the snow is wet. If the snowball falls apart easily, the snow is dry. Fortunately, wet snow should not by itself be a problem unless you have record setting snow levels or the roof of your business has recently been compromised by water damage, wood-eating pests or perhaps fire.

Snow Fall, Followed by Snow Melt, Followed by More Snow

When rain falls on snow, the snow that doesn't melt becomes saturated with water which creates an extra heavy load for your roof. Couple that with another snow and you could have a very wet, very compact, very heavy snow load on your roof.

Presence of Parapets

Parapets trap in snow on flat roofs, and can easily create conditions for snow drifts to form. Snow drifts create uneven loads of snow on your roof, straining the structure overall. Parapets also tend to trap in debris that can clog drains and prevent snow melt from running off of your roof and down into the ground. While periodically cleaning the debris off your flat roof can help, this won't help with the snow drifts.

If your flat roof is under great strain, either because of drifting snow or because of heavy, wet snow fall, be mindful of signs of possible roof collapse. Sagging beams beneath your roof and sounds of groaning or popping in the rafters can mean that your commercial building is unsafe for use. If this happens, evacuate your building immediately and have a commercial roofing contractor come take a look at your roof before someone gets hurt.

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27 October 2015

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