Managing snow loading

Roof covered with snow

It’s the middle of winter with lots of snow and cold weather yet to come! While a fresh blanket of snow can be a pretty sight it can also result in serious damage to buildings. A cubic foot of snow can weigh between 7 and 30 pounds depending on if it’s wet, contains ice, or is compact. Excessive buildup of snow on roofs can cause them to collapse.

Here are some tips to help you mitigate the risks associated with winter weather.

Before winter starts:
  • Fix any areas of the roof that are leaking or damaged
  • Ensure roof drains, downspouts and gutters are in good condition and free of debris
  • Install heat trace wiring to melt snow and prevent buildup in gutters
  • If you have a flat roof, have indicators installed to measure snow levels
  • Use a roof deflection monitoring system to help monitor your roof for deformation
During heavy snowfall:
  • Inspect your roof for snow build up regularly
  • Check your building for sign of collapse including structural cracking and doors or windows that won’t open
  • Block off any areas where ice is hanging or heavy snow accumulations pose a hazard to the people accessing your building
  • Hire an expert to safely remove snow from your roof
  • If ice is building up around drains and other critical areas on your property, use manual tools to remove it. Don’t use torches as you can start a fire if combustible materials are around.