Heavy Snow On Commercial Roofing Can Cause Serious Issues

Commercial Roofing TorontoFor the vast majority of residential property owners in Toronto, snow removal from the rooftop will simply be left to the forces of nature. Sunshine, wind, and warm temperatures, combined with the pitch of the roof and its gutter system, are usually deemed sufficient to clear ice and snow from the roofing surface without the need for physical exertion.

However, the mindset of commercial property owners and/or managers within the GTA has to be considerably different, primarily due to the fact that flat roofing is installed in most of these settings. While flat roofing is preferable to sloped roofing in commercial buildings for a number of legitimate reasons, snow accumulation must neither be ignored nor left to the elements for its eventual removal, as several structural and safety issues can arise as a result – these concerns can be further heightened by the unpredictable winter weather conditions that are often experienced in Toronto.

If accumulated snow and ice are not removed, the types of serious structural and safety issues that will most frequently occur include:

  • Total or partial roof collapse – the accumulated weight exceeds structural limits
  • Integrity of roofing material is damaged – separated seams; tears/perforations
  • Interior building damage – leaks/water penetration from freeze-and-thaw cycles
  • Building maintenance is hampered – heating/ventilation systems not accessible
  • Safety/risks of personal injury – due to snow and ice falling from the roof edges

In addition, and despite their best intentions, commercial property owners or managers may inadvertently cause other structural and safety issues even when they do remove the snow and ice from their roofing surfaces. Snow that is merely pushed over the edge of the roof and allowed to re-accumulate against the exterior walls of the building may lead to the following:

  • A safety issue for pedestrian traffic – due to slippery footing, narrowed passage
  • Cracks/leaks in the building foundation – water absorption into porous concrete

One further point that should not be overlooked with respect to snow removal from flat roofing – such responsibility may not necessary rest solely with commercial property owners and managers. Depending on the type of building as well as its specific commercial purpose, those renting the space may have the appointed obligation to keep the roof, eavestroughs, and public access routes clear of snow/ice throughout the winter season.

Safety Is A Key Consideration When Clearing Snow From Flat Roofs

After most snowfalls, the sounds of shovels can be heard throughout neighbourhoods as residents work to clear the driveways, walkways, and steps leading to their homes. There is a certain familiarity with the distinctive noise made by a shovel as it is scraped along the surfaces of asphalt, concrete, and interlocking bricks or stones.

Once again, however, this is not the case with snow removal from flat roofs.

Removing snow from flat roofing requires a more gentle approach and perhaps more finesse than the repetitiveness of shoveling a driveway or walkway. The materials that are commonly used in flat roofs are somewhat more forgiving than asphalt, concrete, or brick/stone and are therefore more vulnerable to damage if snow removal tactics are not modified from those routinely employed at ground level.

For the protection and safety of the material on your flat roofing, property owners, managers, and tenants should consider these aspects in their approaches to rooftop snow removal:

  • Running the shovel about one inch above the actual surface of the roof
  • If the remaining inch of snow is not compacted, clear it with a soft broom
  • Use smooth aluminum or plastic shovels – avoid those with metal edges
  • Resist any and all temptation to chop/chip away at ice formations/blocks
  • Refrain from spreading salt/de-icers – may be harmful to roofing material
  • Note/mark locations of air vents, exhaust pipes, etc. before clearing begins

For the purposes of personal safety, the following practices should also be observed as snow is being cleared from flat roofing:

  • Ensuring that proper footwear is worn at all times
  • Erecting signage at ground level to warn pedestrians
  • Walkways should be cordoned off to pedestrian traffic
  • Involve at least two or more people in roof clearing efforts
  • Test footing before work begins, especially near roof edges
  • Avoid working during high winds at all costs

Despite the importance of clearing snow from commercial buildings with flat roofing, there may be some hesitation on the part of property owners, managers, or tenants due to reasons of safety or inexperience. In such instances, it would be advisable to contract the services of professionals with extensive roof clearing knowledge, such as the team from Triumph Roofing.

Triumph Roofing is acutely aware of the safety concerns associated with clearing snow from flat roofing, and places strict emphasis on ensuring the well-being of the building occupants, pedestrians passing below, our crew, and the roof itself.

Clearing snow from commercial roofing requires a delicate touch and keen attention to safety. If you would prefer to have a professional team remove snow and ice from your flat roofing throughout the winter, call the experts from Triumph Roofing in Toronto today at 416-534-8877 or contact us to discuss your service needs and scheduling.

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