Is Your Roof Gaining Weight This Winter?

Snow accumulation and even heavy rains set the stage for potential roof collapse. Here are four actions to take that will minimize this threat to people and property.

By Heidi J. Ellsworth

With record snowfalls and rain accumulation, it is more important than ever to know what the conditions are up on the roof. Facility managers are faced with a number of concerns from flooding to HVAC failures, and, yes, even the potential of a roof collapse. Knowing what is happening on the roof can make all of the difference from easy service to roof failure to full collapse.

It is important to find strong partners that can provide service that keep roofs from gaining the weight of snow loads or high water levels. There are several important steps to keeping the roof safe, spanning from technology on the roof to winter maintenance to all important snow removal. Following are items that should be top of your list for maintaining a healthy weight for your roof.

1. Winter Inspection. Inspecting the roof every year is critical. Identifying trouble areas along with wind, hail, or water damage can save a roof from winter failure. Cleaning drains and removing debris from the roof is essential to keep water from accumulating on the roof or not draining. It has the same effect with snow melt which is even heavier on the roof. Getting roof inspections and maintenance before the harsh winter weather can save money, lives, and headaches.

2. Snow Removal. Work with your vendors to have an ongoing plan for quick snow removal in order to keep unnecessary weight off the roof. With many roof collapses noted in the news during the last couple of winters, facility managers realized that having an established relationship with a national provider results in fast, efficient snow removal saving not only cost but public relations concerns. roof collapse

3. Monitoring. A key to keeping buildings safe during snow events is consistent monitoring. Having a program set-up ahead of time with a roofing company or network will assure that buildings will be in a pre-planned rotation for snow removal, drain cleaning and overall inspections. It is critical to keep drains clear before, during and after weather events to keep ponding water at a minimum. Standing water can cause ongoing issues not only structurally but for the long-term integrity of the roof.

4. Technology on the Roof. There is a relatively new technology that monitors the roof for snow and water. It is the Roof Monitor™ system. This technology safeguards the roofs of commercial structures and the lives, investments, and businesses that rely on them. It is a technology-based system designed to monitor live loads of water and snow on the roofs of low-sloped buildings and to inform businesses of potential risk. It can be installed onto an existing roof, or when a new roof it being installed.

With the amount of rain and snow that is falling throughout the U.S., taking these preventive steps now will minimize roofing concerns for facility managers and building owners. Work with your vendors to create a strong winter plan for your buildings including the use of cutting edge technology. The ability to monitor the roof from the office for snow and water loads, minimizing weight gain, is not just financially responsible it is critical for building occupant safety.

roof collapseEllsworth has been working in the roofing industry since 1993. Currently, she provides marketing and communications expertise as the director of strategic accounts for National Roofing Partners (NRP), a national network of tier one commercial roofing contractors with more than 120 service locations and 8,000 employees nationwide. Having held positions with EagleView Technologies, Carlisle Construction Materials, and Malarkey Roofing, Ellsworth is the owner of HJE Consulting Group. She is a graduate of the University of Portland.