What to Do When Your Roof is SNOWED-IN

Jonathan Pierson on Feb 12, 2018 5:03:03 PM

Triway High School Aeriel (Snow)

Our families of FiberTite membranes are extremely durable and able to withstand the elements, but certain circumstances, such as structural considerations, require that the accumulation of snow on the rooftop be removed. The following are items to keep in mind when your roof is SNOWED-IN.

S     Safety first. You will be doing very physical work on a slippery surface many feet above the ground. First and foremost, make sure you stay on the rooftop while the snow does not.

N     Not for use on the roof surface are items such as metal shovels, snow blowers with metal tines and other equipment that should only be used on concrete or asphalt surfaces. Plastic shovels are recommended but even then, the leading edges should be double checked for burs or other irregularities that may cause damage to the roof surface.

   Do not overburden a specific area. It is one thing to “shovel off” a small area such as a back porch, but it is much different undertaking the removal of snow from large areas or from upper elevations onto lower elevations.

W     Where are you putting the snow? You must have a plan. This is not your driveway and you can’t just make a big pile to melt during the next thaw. Every building is constructed with a dead load safety factor which uses average snowfall data to size its structural components. Snow has an average weight of 15-20 pounds per cubic foot that equates to a weight of 150,000-200,000 pounds on a roof area that is 100 x 100 x 1 foot deep. If you evenly spread this snow on the adjacent 100 x 100 foot area, the weight doubles to 300,000-400,000 pounds.

E     Equipment. Equipment may be necessary on the ground for further removal. If you are moving the snow off the roof into a parking lot, it doesn’t take long to build a snow drift up to the eave of the roof (this transition is very difficult to see from the roof surface. Remember, safety first). If you are off-loading the snow into a parking lot, can you off-load into a dump truck? Do you need heavy-duty equipment on the ground?

D     Dress appropriately. This is physical work in the winter. Keep exposed skin to a minimum to prevent frostbite. Prevent overheating by wearing multiple layers that can be removed or added as the need arises.

I     Implement a buddy plan to make sure that everyone stays safe and warm. It is easy to become distracted due to the very nature of the rooftop looking like a “field” of snow. Do not forget you are on a rooftop and stick to your snow removal plan.

   Next time is always the question to be asked after the initial threat to the structure has been removed. Could or should the structure be reinforced to add dead load capacity to eliminate the need for snow removal in the future?

In closing, the safety of the workers, structure and roof surface are paramount when removing snow from your roof. The use of a highly reinforced membrane such as FiberTite adds to the long-term performance of the roof system in this scenario.

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