The Effects of Snow on a Flat Roof

When the cold winter weather comes it causes chaos on our roads nationwide. Although our minds are on the road, we forget about how our homes are affected by the snow. To prepare your home for the worst of the weather we have our top tips to prepare your flat roof.

What is the issue?

EPDM membranes are known for longevity and robustness, however it still has a breaking point. Traditional pitched roofs have the advantage of gravity helping to push the snow naturally off the building.

Flat or shallow pitched roofs however are at a slightly higher risk of damage as the snow does not have the help of gravity. Leaving the snow built up for too long could result in the roof collapsing or causing damage.

As the snow or ice melts, this could also cause issues. Whether it’s happening because of the natural warmth of the sun shining during the day or the heat rising up within the building, it’s likely that the build-up of snow or ice will start to disappear and leave a pool of water behind. However, as the day goes on and the sun goes down, the temperature will become colder, meaning that the water is likely to freeze again.

The winter weather melting ice and freezing again overnight can also cause extreme deterioration and leaks can occur causing the membrane to sag and blister. The build-up of snow and ice can also cause the drains and gutters to become blocked. If this isn’t cleared then there’s nowhere for water or rainfall to drain away.

Know the signs

Below are the most common signs to be wary of over the colder spell.
  • Bowing of walls or beams
  • Extreme icicle formation along the edges of the roof
  • Large chunks of ice or snow falling from the roof
  • Evidence of leaks
  • Cracks in the ceiling
  • Displaced tiles on suspended roofs
  • Our top tips

  • Determine the maximum amount of snow accumulation your flat roof can handle.
  • Have regular roofing inspections to determine the integrity of your flat roof and if all the draining avenues are in working order.
  • Clear away large amounts of snow fall from the surface of the roof.
  • Remove ice dams immediately in order to prevent ponding and future occurrences.
  • Whenever removing snow, take note of the location of pipes and vents to prevent damage to these structures.
  • Use de-icing or melting products that are suitable for the type of roof membrane.
  • Clear gutters and drain spouts of any accumulation to ensure proper drainage when the snow begins to melt.
  • If you are uncomfortable removing the snow yourself, hire a professional.
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