The Importance of Flat Roof Snow Removal

flat roof snow removal

The Importance of Flat Roof Snow Removal

We love the look of freshly fallen snow, but it can wreak havoc on our roofs, especially flat roofs. Average snow can weigh 15 pounds per cubic foot, while compacted snow may weigh upwards of 20 pounds.

That’s a lot of weight on your roof, and ignoring it can result in severe damage, from structural stress to leaks from snowmelt and more.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about flat roof snow removal. Keep reading to discover why you need it and how to get it done.

What Can Snow Do to a Flat Roof?

As snow falls or drifts, it naturally accumulates on your roof. Homes and businesses with sloped roofs are more protected against snow piling up. Steeper inclines allow snow to roll off the roof rather than build up.

However, if you have a flat roof, you need to be extra vigilant about removing that snow. If you aren’t, you’re more likely to experience issues and structural damage.

Here are a few examples of what could happen.

Roof Collapse

The worst possible scenario is a collapsing roof, which can happen in areas that experience high levels of snowfall, such as New York or here in Massachusetts.

Roofs are designed to hold a certain amount of weight, and going over that limit can cause undue stress. Snow and ice get heavier than many people realize. When too much accumulates, your roof can simply collapse.

Keeping up with regular snow removal is key to protecting your home or business. And snow removal extends beyond the driveways and walkways. You must remove it from the roof too.

That said, going up to the roof to shovel is very dangerous. You shouldn’t attempt flat roof snow removal on your own, as you could easily fall and hurt yourself. Leave this job to snow removal experts, who can keep the buildup to a minimum and protect your roof.

Ice Dams

Ice dams are blocks of ice or icicles that form along the eaves. Unfortunately, they prevent water from draining off your roof.

When the snow melts, it drains toward your gutters. When the gutters are blocked, this water freezes, creating an ice dam. Moisture that can’t drain off a roof hits the ice dam and freezes on top of it, and this backup can leak inside your home or commercial building.

Ice dams can damage your insulation, walls, ceilings, and more. Plus, the moisture entering the building creates dark, damp spaces perfect for mold and mildew growth.

Molds affect people in different ways but may cause itchy eyes, difficulty breathing, cough, asthma symptoms, and more. Mold in your home or commercial building presents health risks you don’t want.

Minimizing snow on the roof can help prevent this problem by reducing the amount of snowmelt.

Ponding Water

Weight on the roof from snow and ice can result in the roof bowing. This, in turn, causes water from melted snow to accumulate in the dip.

This event can lead to ponding water. Standing or ponding pools on the roof refer to water that has been sitting for 48 hours or more.

Runoff from rooftop equipment, rain, and melting snow all create pools of water. This is an issue for several reasons.

Standing water increases the weight or load on the roof, which can impact the structure’s integrity. The freeze-thaw cycle causes water to expand when it turns to ice. This is a huge problem if the water seeps into cracks and crevices on the roof.

Additionally, ice forming from standing water and snowmelt can scrape or scrub the roof surface. This can physically damage the membrane. The algae and vegetation that form in ponding water also damage the roof’s membrane.

Preventing Flat Roof Damage

Now that you know more about what snow can do to a roof, it’s important to understand snow removal methods and ways to protect your building.

Regular flat roof maintenance is key to keeping it in good shape. Homes and buildings with pitched roofs can use snow rakes, but snow on flat roofs requires a different approach.

Remember, it’s risky to attempt snow removal from a roof yourself. You could slip and fall and seriously injure yourself or someone else.

Since heading to the roof and removing snow by yourself is dangerous, it’s best to leave this job up to the professionals. They have the tools and experience needed to safely and efficiently clear your roof.

You should also look for signs of structural roof damage, such as:

  • Sagging
  • Ripples or bends in supports
  • Cracks in the walls or ceiling
  • Leaks
  • Doors that open on their own
  • Windows or doors that are tough to open
  • Creaking, popping, or cracking noises
  • Large icicle formation
  • Bowing or buckling walls

If you notice these signs, contact a roofing company for emergency service.

Maintenance Tasks

The key to preventing flat roof damage is preventive maintenance. It’s good to know how much weight your roof can handle. Before a big storm, be sure to have an emergency plan.

Set up regular roof inspections to look for issues and conduct repairs as necessary. Keep gutters and drain spouts clear to help water down and away from the building.

And be sure to schedule snow removal from the roof, as that’s the best way to prevent issues in the first place.

Flat Roof Snow Removal in Massachusetts

Accumulating snow and ice can wreak havoc on your roof, creating heavy loads and water damage. That’s why it’s so crucial to keep up with regular maintenance. That includes flat roof snow removal.

Since winter is just around the corner, you must be prepared. Contact us here at Eagle Rivet Roof Services Corporation to get a free consultation. We’ll help you keep your residential or commercial roof free and clear.

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