Battling Snow and Ice Accumulation on Your Roof

Just when we thought spring was on its way and temperatures would be getting warmer, more snow and ice appeared near our corporate office. As the unrelenting winter weather continues to impact the entire country, it’s important to stay knowledgeable about potential building damage and roof collapse from snow drifts and ice.

Every commercial roofing system that is properly built is constructed to withstand a “design” snow and ice load, which factors in expected frequency and severity of snowstorms. The snow design load also considers factors such as type of structure, construction and risk to human life and safety. These factors may change from building to building even if they are in the same area.

How Much Weight Can Your Roof Take? 

If you are concerned about the weight of snow on your roof, you should have the structural capacity of the building reviewed. A structural evaluation can be performed to assess the current condition of the roof and determine the weight it can carry. The age and condition of the building must be taken into consideration because poor materials and construction combined with lack of maintenance may result in load-bearing capacities being lower than the design snow load.

Typically, the weight of snow and ice is as follows:

  • 1″ of light, dry snow is about 0.25 pounds per square foot (1ft of snow = 3 psf)
  • 1″ of heavy, wet snow is about 1.75 pounds per square foot (1 ft of snow = 21 psf)
  • 1″ of ice is about 5 pounds per square foot

What to Do

If you suspect your commercial roofing system may be in danger of damage due to the weight of snow or ice, you should take action as soon as possible. If you need to remove snow and ice from the roof, contact a reliable and insured contractor and be aware that this type of removal can be damaging to roof materials.

If you’re still concerned about long-lasting damage to your roof from the severe winter, determine how much weight the roof can withstand, helping prepare you for future snow and ice storms.

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