How Ice and Snow Impact Your Commercial Roof

Did you know that every year 49 out of the 50 states across America can see snowfall?

Of course, the amount they see can vary a lot. From a light, powdery dusting to a mammoth pile that takes all morning to clear from your driveway, snow from state to state is never the same. 

If you’re in an area that often sees snow and ice in the winter, you might not have thought too much about how that’s impacting the commercial roof on your properties. But, you really should be. The weather can actually do a lot to roofs, and preparing could be the key to making sure yours lasts longer.

Find out everything you need to know in our guide. 

Do Snow and Ice Affect Roofs?

If there’s one thing you can be certain of, it’s that snow and ice definitely affect roofs. If yours isn’t properly looked after, the cold weather can actually bring a whole host of unwanted problems with it. If you want to avoid having to repair your roof every year, it pays to be prepared.

As always, preparation starts with knowledge. So, before getting into how to take care of your roof, let’s cover the dangers that snow and ice bring.

Putting Stress on Your Commercial Roof

Your commercial roof isn’t designed to hold everything up. Just like absolutely everything on this planet, your roof has a maximum loading point that it can take before it breaks. But, what has this got to do with snow?

Whilst you might think of snow as light and powdery, it really isn’t. In fact, snow is actually pretty heavy!

According to FEMA, fresh snow can weigh 3 pounds per square foot. This is quite light, but it also isn’t the snow you need to worry about. Wet snow is the real trouble maker.

Wet snow can weigh a whopping 21 pounds per square foot, which is a huge difference! Whilst your roof can take 21 pounds, after days of heavy snowfall it might start to struggle. Ice can weigh even more, too, at 57 pounds per square foot. 

If there’s too much snow and ice on your roof for it to bear, it can lead to structural failure. In fact, just 2 feet of packed, heavy snow could be enough to cause your commercial roof to collapse.

Creating Gutter Problems

Have you ever heard of ice dams? These are created when enough ice and snowmelt, flows down to the edge of your roof and freezes again. Whilst this may not sound like a big deal, it definitely is!

Ice dams can be a huge problem for your guttering and cause major damage to the systems you have. It can also tear the flashing on your roof right off in more extreme cases. 

Causing Cracks

When ice and snow melt, it doesn’t just create dams. The water can also fill in small cracks in your roof that have never been an issue before. But, when the water freezes it expands, pushing those cracks and causing them to get bigger and bigger.

With bigger cracks comes a higher chance of leaks in your building. This will only get worse as the ice continues to melt and freeze, leading to a vicious cycle of damage. 

How to Protect Your Commercial Roof

It should be getting pretty clear by now that snow and ice can be a real pain for commercial roofs! If yours is flat, you’re going to have an even harder time with melted ice pooling and leading to potential leaks. But, enough with the problems; it’s time for some solutions. 

With the right maintenance, you can keep your building safe and make sure you don’t have to replace your roof every winter. Here are some tips to help you.

commercial roof snow

Start With Quality Roofing Materials

The first step to keeping your roof safe is by picking your materials wisely. If you live in an area with heavy snowfall, membrane or metal roofing could be your best option. 

roof membrane is a completely watertight seal over your roof made from plastic polymer. It’s one of the best long-term solutions for preventing roof leaks and keeping your building protected against ice and snow.

A metal roof is another great option for protecting against leaks and is also incredibly sturdy. The metal roof from North Star comes with a leak-free warranty of either 10 or 18 years, which should do a lot for your peace of mind!

Don’t Walk on a Snowy Roof

If your roof is covered in snow and ice, don’t walk on it, even if you want to clear it!

Not only is this incredibly dangerous, but it could also put extra stress on your roof and make any damage that might be there a lot worse. If you want to clear the ice and snow, always call the professionals.

Clear Your Commercial Roof Before Winter

Before the weather turns cold, clear your roof. Remove and debris on the roof itself as well as in the guttering. This is one of the best ways to make sure snow and ice can’t cause too much damage. 

Keeping a Close Watch On Your Commercial Roof

Whilst you shouldn’t repair the damage yourself, that doesn’t mean you can’t keep an eye out for it. Watch out for sagging tiles on your ceilings, cracks on your walls, and any leaks. If you see anything like this, call in the professionals straight away. 

Get Help With Your Commercial Roof Maintenance

A commercial roof isn’t the easiest thing to look after – we’ll be the first to admit that! When the snow and ice come, it only gets harder. That’s where our team comes in.

North Star provides expert roof restoration, helping your roof stay strong every month of the year. If you’re interested in our help, make sure to fill out this form for a free quote!

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