There is a lot to be done around commercial properties to ensure they’re ready for winter and safe for those living and working in and around them. From shoveling and deicing, to making sure the buildings heating system is ready to handle the frosty temperatures, it makes for a busy time of year. Because it is so busy, sometimes it’s easy to forget the roof of the facility. It’s pretty common for homeowners to get their roof ready to handle the load of winter snow and ice, but it’s not always the case with a commercial building.

According to the Insurance Information Institute, Winter storms and cold waves caused $1.2 billion in insured losses in 2017. Many of these cases are attributed to cases of structural integrity issues from roof collapse.

Here’s what you should look at and when.

Before the Snow Starts

  • Before the snow hits, clear the roof of all debris. Dirt and leaves may not be an issue for all properties, but be sure to check and remove anything which can block gutters and downspouts. This debris can prevent melting snow from properly draining and can cause ice dams and heavy snow buildup on the roof which can bring a different set of issues.

  • Inspect gutters/downspouts to make sure they’re secure. Heavy snow/ ice can cause gutters to weaken and sag, or even break them away from the building and allow water damage.

During the Winter

  • If a winter storm occurs, arrange for snow removal for employee access and plan to have any excess snow removed from the roof. This will prevent excessive loads on the roof which could cause structural failure. It is recommended that this is done by a professional maintenance person for safety.

  • Schedule routine checks for snow and ice buildup. Regular removal helps avoid large ice or snow blocks from forming that can be difficult to breakup and remove.

Spring Time

  • The temperature rises and the snow begins to melt, check the roof to ensure that no debris has accumulated over the winter blocking downspouts/gutters and they are allowing the water to flow away from the building.

  • If there is a blockage, clear it so that the water doesn’t pool, or find another way to floor, potentially causing water damage.