There’s nothing more picturesque than a fresh coat of snow laying silent and pristine across roads, yards, and even rooftops. The buildup of snow, no matter how pretty, can cause a lot of damage to roofs, especially flat roofs.
Flat roofs can’t use gravity like your average pitched roof can to discard snow and ice that builds up over Winter. A square foot of snow can weigh up to 50 lbs. once it’s been compacted – adding a lot of extra weight to your roof. As the snow melts and refreezes, causing ice to build up, it can cause your roof to age and deteriorate prematurely.
Regardless of the type of material you use on your roof, you may experience ponding. The excess weight of the snow on your roof can cause the roof to bow or dip. This leads to pooling or ponding areas of water on your roof as snow melts. It can affect the integrity of the roof materials and interfere with any mechanical equipment that may be installed on the roof.
As melted snow thaws, it will pool in bowed areas of your roof during colder temperature. When it refreezes, it will expand. Any water that seeped into cracks or crevices will now expand causing further damage and larger cracks or holes. As more melted snow thaws and refreezes, it could look for and even create cracks in the wood and walls which will grow until inevitably water leaks through your roof into your home or business.
Leaks are usually a slow forming problem. They may not even be detected for months. Untreated leaks and the excessive weight of the snow could eventually lead to the collapse of the roof – both a costly repair and a safety concern.
If your roof shows signs of any of the following, you should have a professional inspect it before Winter:
- Bowing or buckling of walls or beams
- Extreme icicle formation along the edges of the roof
- Large chunks of ice or snow falling from the roof
- Evidence of leaks
- Cracks in the ceiling
- Displaced tiles on suspended roofs
It’s not all bad news though, because you can take preventative measures to keep your roof in solid shape to avoid damage before the harsh Winter weather set in.
- Have a plan in place. Before the Winter storms start rolling in, know how you will handle them. Will you shovel snow yourself, hire a contractor, etc.
- Know how much snow/weight your roof can safely handle.
- Have a contractor who can regularly inspect your roof to determine its integrity and ensure it’s draining properly and not creating cracks or leaks.
- Clear away excessive amounts of snow from your roof as needed. Once snow compacts and starts thawing and refreezing it will be harder to remove than when it initially fell.
- Keep your eyes open for any ice dams. Remove them immediately to prevent ponding and future occurrences.
- Mark any pipes, vents, or mechanical equipment that may get damaged while removing snow.
- Never use any ice melt or other products that aren’t suitable for your roof material.
- Make sure any gutters or downspouts are clear of debris to allow for proper drainage of water once the snow melts.
It’s important to maintain the integrity and safety of your flat roof year-round. Following these preventative measures can help make sure your flat roof is ready to withstand whatever Winter has in store for us. If you have questions about what may be covered when it comes to roof damage, give me a call!