Know Your Snow

Buildings in climates that receive a lot of snow must be built to handle snow load on the roof. This applies to both homes and commercial buildings, but commercial buildings have a special problem. As they can span great distances, such as at a mall or a sports arena, how do you know when you’ve got too much snow? Become educated about snow loads to better prepare for the inclement weather.

Monitor Your Roof

First, always double-check that your roof was built to code. This seems obvious, but if you have recently acquired a building that is new to you, you shouldn’t make any assumptions. Next, invest in good roof snow removal plans. Included in this plan should be a way to monitor your roof. This could be done in a variety of ways, such as a roof snow alarm system that lets you know when loads are reaching dangerous levels.  

Be Aware of Conditions

Not all snow is created equal. Dry, powdery snow weighs less than wet snow. Dry snow averages around 3 pounds per square foot while wet snows can range up to 21 pounds per square foot. This is good news if you live in the western part of the United States where the snows tend to be dry. However, it is crucial to know what type of snow is in the forecast as exceptions can happen anywhere, in any climate.

Watch for Unbalanced Snow

An unbalanced snow load, where snow has accumulated at different depths on the roof, is more dangerous than an even snow load. Unbalancing can be caused by the slope of the roof and roof objects such as firewalls, HVAC equipment, and plumbing vents that cause drifting. Installation of snow cleats and other guards can help with this problem. Snow removal is required if the imbalance is too great.