Snow Buildup on Roof Tops Could Be Problem For Storage Facilities in Cold Regions

Posted on Jan 31 2011 - 8:37am by John Stevens

It’s a literally growing threat for businesses and residences in the Northeast and other snow-ridden areas of the United States. What to do with all that snow growing higher on roof tops as storms hit again and again, building up layers of snow and ice above our heads? For self storage businesses it is of particular concern because of the flat roofs the facilities feature.

Our more balmy-weathered brethren need not worry about snow, but for those storage facilities located in areas getting hit by successive snow storms, the concern is great. With little time in between storms for snow and ice to melt, the layers are piling on and causing great strain. In Woodbury, NY., forecasters are warning businesses and homeowners in the tri-state area to beware of roof collapses and the National Weather Service has advised the clearing of roof tops before the problem compounds even more.

Since there have been no breaks in between periods of snow, the existing material has no time to liquefy and run off. This is of particular concern to non-sloping roofs, such as the flat roofs at storage facilities and many other commercial businesses. One of two Boston-based Casey & Hayes storage facilities had a section of roof collapse on Jan. 27, in which the flat roof came down under heavy snow and all walls collapsed in back of the section of building. The snow was just too heavy and the roof too weak. The section will likely have to be dismantled and rebuilt.

Ice dams form on the rooftops and cause even greater weight concern. Officials are recommending that businesses and homeowners clear their roofs of ice and snow after each storm so buildup does not occur. Roof rakes, purchased at hardware stores, work well for this, however, safety officials warn against using snow blowers on roofs saying the extra weight can be dangerous and can even create damage. Many are left to just climb onto the roof and hack away with pick axes and shovels to break up the ice and compacted snow. Some businesses provide snow removal services for roof tops, but they are heavily booked and can be expensive because of high demand.

Reports of roof collapses are beginning to riddle the Northeast and other snowy regions. In Worcester, Mass., a gas station canopy roof collapsed overnight during the past weekend due to heavy snow buildup. No one was injured, but extensive damage to the station was reported. And in mid December, many remember the roof collapsing at the Metrodome in Minneapolis, causing the Vikings-Giants game to be rescheduled. No injuries occurred.

Sources Used:

“Snow-Covered Storage Facility Roof Collapses.” Jan. 27, 2011.

“Snow Piles Up, Endangering Stability of Roof.” Jan. 31, 2011.