Commercial Flat Roof Snow Removal Guide
December 5, 2022
The first snowfall is beautiful, a pristine white blanket covering everything and creating warm and fuzzy feelings. After a few snowfalls, we all lament that the snow should stop. For commercial building operators, snow is a risk; that is why they have a roof snow removal service on standby. Snow can cave in a roof, and commercial flat roof snow removal is the great equalizer for property managers. Danger to your inventory and people who work for you necessitates rooftop snow removal that can cripple any commercial facility. When you need commercial roof snow removal, call on an expert – a roofing contractor. Most contractors offer a service for snow removal with their annual inspection packages, and it is certainly money well spent. On the residential side, a flat roof is easy to install and energy-efficient. But the drawback is that it is vulnerable to the elements, especially snow on the roof in the winter. Your roofing system wasn’t designed to carry all the extra weight that snow brings – think heavy, wet snow here – so you want to get ahead of the curve and clear dustings of snow before it becomes a significant problem.
Why Snow Removal is Crucial for Your Flat Roof
Snow on a commercial flat roof cause pain and strain to the structural integrity of a building. To keep your structure secure, they are a couple of ways to proceed. The first way is to melt the snow on the roof and get the water to the drainage system and the weight off the roof.
Ideas for Commercial Flat Roof Snow Removal
This goal can be accomplished with an ice melter for your roof. It changes the composition of snow and ice by reducing the freezing point for both substances. An ice melt that is eco-friendly, non-toxic, chloride-free, and non-corrosive works best for flat roofs. The material will dissolve ice, help channel water from the roof and relieve the stress your roof is under during the winter.
Another solution is the tried-and-true method of shovelling snow off the roof. This solution, while it sounds practical, really isn’t. It can be dangerous when moving heavy wet snow that may weaken the roof supports. Add an adult male’s weight to the mix, which is a recipe for disaster like a cave-in.
This rooftop snow removal solution is just what it says. You need a 20’ pole attached to a shovel head, and gently pull the pole to the roof’s edge until the snow is removed. This simple, safe method to deal with rooftop snow is relatively inexpensive.
It is a quick and efficient way to remove snow and ice from your roof. Using hot steam under pressure and sprayed onto the roof will melt snow and remove pesky ice dams that damage roofing systems. Before employing this method, ensure your eavestroughs and downspouts are clear for drainage. It would help if you could perform this task on a mild day to keep the draining water from re-freezing during the drainage process.
When is the Right Time to Remove Snow?
The old rule of thumb that anytime is a good time to remove snow from the roof is an old Wives’ tale. Your roof’s exterior cover – the shingles – can be damaged if too much snow clearing has been enacted. If you crack, curl, damage or misalign a shingle during the removal process, it could cause leaks you won’t know about until spring. The next point to consider is the granules on the shingles and their role in channelling rainwater off the roof. If you shovel too much, granules disappear, and your shingles become slicks releasing torrents of water during rainstorms. Look at your snow problems this way; your roof is built to withstand 40 pounds per square foot – for most newer homes. An older home may have been able to support that weight, but over time, it has lost some of its effectiveness and can’t handle that load anymore. If you see four feet of snow on your roof, you know now is the time to take action. Before you get up on the roof to remove snow, here are some signs to pay attention to. The upper doors and windows can provide clues as to when to remove snow. If they are sticking or become difficult to open and close, the weight of the snow on the roof pushes down on the trusses and rafters. When cracks appear around your windows or doors, the pressure from the snow’s weight intensifies. If you hear noise coming from your roof – like creaking – know that it is only a matter of time before the roof falls in. If you notice a discernable bow on your roof, it should tell you the weight of the snow is more than the roof can bear, which is never a good thing to see on your roof.
Five Key Steps for Commercial Flat Roof Snow Removal
Know your surroundings; if there are items at the base of the building, move them a safe distance away to prevent damage. If you are working by an entrance/exit, set up signs or orange cones to alert passersby to the imminent danger of falling snow.
Next, grab your shovel and start dragging it – gingerly – across the top of the roof. Find a position on the roof where you have balance and can stand on the roof solidly. The gentle passes you make with the shovel should protect the membrane of the roofing system you are trying to clear.
Once the majority of the snow has been removed by shovel, take a broom to the residual accumulation. Brush what is left of the snow evenly off the roof – that way, you aren’t leaving extra weight on sections of the roof. Remember: DO NOT DIG INTO THE ROOF.
If the snow has solidified and is now ice, or you have ice dams at the eavestroughs, an ice melt substance might be just what you need to deal with the problem—talking to a roofing expert to find out what substance works best with your roof.
If you are getting the snow off the roof, it only makes sense to clear it from the eavestroughs and drain spouts. When the frozen water melts, it needs to go somewhere, and if your drainage system is blocked with ice, drainage doesn’t happen.
Commercial Flat Roof Snow Removal Tips
- Use the weather to your advantage; mild temperatures will melt heavy snow deposits.
- Clear ground snow first before scaling a ladder.
- It begs to be cleared when snow is over a foot high on the roof.
- Try not to scrap the shovel across the roof; friction will harm the roof’s skin.
- If hydro lines are present, get professional help, there is no turning back from electrocution.
- If you use a ladder – stabilize it on the ground and the roof – it prevents injuries.
- Use the three-foot rule – leave ice that length as a demarcation to avoid slips and falls.
- Stay off garage and outbuilding roofs, as they have little in the way of support.
- Be aware of where the snow falls to avoid injuries.
- Don’t let storm accumulations build up; the extra weight from the last storm could cause a roof collapse.
- Using plastic-headed rakes and shovels reduces damage to the roof.
- Snow drifts pose a unique problem, don’t let the snow settle where the wind can’t move it from.
- Keep the snow’s weight concentrated so as not to cave in weaker roof areas.
- Keep snow from the roof away from entrances and exits; you might leave in a hurry.
- When clearing the weight that snow creates, start with the snowdrifts first.
- If you can, use a spotter for help to warn passersby and as a fail-safe should something go wrong.
- Don’t drop snow on landscaping, gas or electricity meters.
- Removing snow causes wear and tear to your roofing system, be judicious when removing it.
- Keep your modes of transportation away from a snowy roof. Ice and heavy snow can cause severe damage to your vehicle.
Integrity Roofers are Your Commercial Flat Roof Snow Removal Experts
For over two decades and millions of square feet, we at Integrity Roofers have been the GTAs go-to roof snow removal company. Here is what you can expect when you bring our company to take care of your snow problem: roof protection. Flat roofs don’t hold the extra weight very well; we will remove it to protect the structural integrity of your roofing system. Balance the costs between snow removal and a replacement roof, and hands down, you will spend a few dollars on snow clearing. To discuss your winter snow removal needs for your building, please get in touch with the experts at Integrity Roofing today.