Removing Snow From Flat Roofs

September 6, 2019

 

Roof renovations can be costly and time-consuming so of course, you’d want to experience as few as possible. Keeping up with proper roof maintenance, especially during the winter, is vital to avoiding major renovations and repairs. One simple task you can do to help avoid roof collapse is shoveling the snow that accumulates on top of a flat roof. For many people, shoveling snow and removing ice dams from their roofs is just another part of living in Ottawa. 

 

Up to a certain point leaving snow on top of your roof can help lower heating costs by adding an insulating layer. There is no need to climb up there every time snowfall accumulates. Most residential roofs can safely hold around ten kilograms of snow and ice per square foot. Older homes may hold less than newer homes due to changing building codes and aging materials. 

A good rule of thumb is to scrape your flat roof off after every six inches of snowfall. Keep in mind that packed snow and ice are going to weigh more than freshly fallen snow. The six inches of snowfall rule assumes the snow is freshly fallen and hasn’t had time to pack together. If there is dense, packed snow on top of your flat roof you may need to remove it at two or three inches of accumulation. 

 

Flat roofs are in greater danger of collapse and water damage than angled roofs. This is due to the fact that flat roofs tend to hold more moisture. This moisture can cause an ice dam to form. Ice dams are ridges of ice that prevent water from draining off the roof, in both liquid and solid forms. Ice dams can cause leaks that damage your roof, ceiling, and insulation. 

Ice can weigh up to five times as much as snow per square foot. Ice is denser than snow and can cause significant damage. A typical ice dam can weigh upwards of 500 kilograms. Icicles and other types of ice build-up should be taken seriously. You’ll want to be sure to remove any significant build-up of ice from your flat roof. 

 

Water can melt and refreeze due to fluctuations in temperatures on the surface of the roof, even when the temperature outside stays consistent. These fluctuations can be caused by air leakage, heat escaping from the chimney, and exhaust systems from kitchens and bathrooms. 

One way you can prevent ice dams from forming, even during the warmer months, is to reduce air leakage from your home. Cutting down on the amount of warm air that will have access to your attic during the winter will greatly reduce the chance of an ice dam building up. Increasing the amount of ceiling insulation in your home is another way to cut down on roof surface temperature fluctuations. 

 

It is vital to the structural integrity of your home to keep heavy loads and moisture build-up off of your roof. It is important to be especially careful when your roof is flat as it is more prone to hold moisture that can end up damaging your home. Take care in the wintertime, and make sure to remove any major snow and ice accumulations from your flat roof. 

 

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