Snow Removal Techniques for Commercial Flat Roofs

Snow Removal Techniques for Commercial Flat Roofs

Roofs are built with a “snow load.” This is the predetermined weight of snow a roof can carry per square foot determined by the design and materials used for the roof. Often heavy snow or snow from multiple storms can exceed that snow load. Working with a commercial roofing contractor, like Veirs Kluk Roofing, for regular roof maintenance and snow removal will protect your roof and your building. Snow removal for commercial roofs aims to prevent damage, keep drainage flowing, and create a safe area for all using the building.

heaped snow on flat roofs

Prevent Damage

Regular roof maintenance means a roof is less likely to leak during the winter. Common California weather can leave commercial roofing material brittle and prone to cracking. This makes the roof likely to fail during a winter storm. As temperatures rise and fall throughout the winter, the roof is subject to the same thaw-freeze cycle we see on the pavement. As snow melts, that water will fill cracks and then expand those cracks when it refreezes. As the crack widens, more and more water can leak into the building. Inspect your roof and have repairs made before winter to leave your roof watertight. Veirs Kluk Roofing recommends regular commercial roof maintenance.

puddles of water on flat roof.

Proper Drainage

Having proper drainage will get water off the roof so it can’t cause problems. Flat roofs are more likely to have “ponding” or puddles show up when the snow melts and the water has nowhere to go. Water contributes to the weight and can exceed the load the roof is designed to hold. This can lead to a sagging roof. Once the roof is sagging, there is a potential for roof collapse.

cleaning gutters off flat metal roof

Part of preventing this includes having your gutters inspected and cleared before winter. Keeping gutters free from debris keeps water flowing. It is less likely to back up and create an ice dam. An ice dam is a ridge of ice that prevents water from flowing. You may notice icicles hanging from the eaves. That is a sign you have an ice dam. You can also discuss having heated cables installed in the gutters to keep them from freezing. Blocked gutters will contribute as water can’t flow off the roof.

laying down layers on flat roof

Other reasons can include temperature variations on the roof due to insulation issues. Heat leaking will melt the snow. The water can then flow to another part of the roof. If that part of the roof is below freezing it will then freeze into ice. The source of the temperature variation primarily comes from heat loss. As you work to maintain your roof, also look to the insulation of the roof. Roof repairs can target heat loss. Contact a commercial roofing contractor for necessary roof repairs the moment you notice water leaks, sagging ceilings, damaged skylights, or any roof damage.

person on flat roof shoveling snow

Personal Safety

Removing snow from a flat roof is not like removing snow from pavement. We want snow completely removed from the pavement for safe travel. With commercial roofing, we only need to remove the bulk of it to lighten the weight. Consider the safety of the person removing the snow and anyone on the ground. Set up cones or signs to warn people or completely block them from where snow will be falling. If using a ladder, make sure to have a ladder spotter on the ground to hold it. It is acceptable to leave some tasks to professionals. Roof snow removal is a task that you can leave to commercial roofing contractors. If you need help with snow removal for flat commercial roofing, contact Veirs Kluk Roofing for an estimate.

close-up of plastic shovel scooping snow

Roof Safety

Freezing temperatures can make vents, skylights, and roofing materials brittle. Extra care needs to be taken when removing snow from a roof. Only plastic tools should be used for snow removal. No metal tools as these are more likely to damage the roof. Be gentle while removing snow with a plastic snow shovel or push broom. If you want to try and stay on the ground, then a snow rake may be useful for removing enough snow to lighten the load on the roof.

snow on flat roof

No matter which tool you use, try not to damage the roof. Do not attempt to scrape all the snow off. The purpose of snow removal is to lighten the load on the roof and to prevent damage, not to remove all the snow. Whether a plastic snow shovel or a snow rake, aim to leave two or three inches of snow on the roof. Scraping the snow down completely increases the likelihood of damaging the roofing membrane or vents concealed by the snow.

snowy peaks in Inland Empire

Local Experience

Founder Edmund “Ed” Kluk began Kluk Roofing in 1949 serving Inland Empire, California. His son-in-law, Marc Veirs, joined him until 1991 when Marc formed Veirs Roofing Company. In 2006, they joined the two most respected roofing companies in Inland Empire to form Kluk Viers Roofing. For 74, years the Viers and Kluk families have been looking after the roofs for the homes and businesses of Inland Empire, expanding service to San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange County. Together, we bring unmatched knowledge of the needs of the area and you will always get high-quality service and professionalism.

All weather can cause roof damage, including heavy snow if not handled properly. Roof snow removal can be done for commercial flat roofs. The life of the roof can be extended with regular roof maintenance, management of drainage, and safe snow removal. Contact Veirs Kluk Roofing for a free quote on your snow removal for commercial roofs.

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