Does Snow Affect Flat Roofs?

 

Snow has the ability to cause chaos across the UK. However, in many cases, our minds tend to wander to how the roads will be affected in winter, not always our homes. While snow may look pretty and magical when it’s first laid, it can actually become quite an inconvenience. And with this year’s winter set to be the worst we’ve seen for many years, we thought it best to warn you of the effects snow has on flat roofs.

Why it’s an Issue

Despite its longevity and robustness, EPDM membrane still has a breaking point. Unlike traditional pitched roofs, flat roofs are at a slight disadvantage as there’s no real pull of gravity to help the snow fall naturally off the building.

Flat or shallow-pitched roofs tend to be at risk of damage as the snow has nowhere to go. The danger of leaving the snow to build up could result in the roof collapsing, though a lot of snow does need to fall for this to happen.

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 buildng, 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. It’s the repetition of melting and freezing that can become a problem on flat roofs as it can cause extreme deterioration of the material’s quality. Standing water can lead to leaks, which is a common problem during winter. It can also result in the membrane becoming saggy or blisters appearing.

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 escape.

Removing the Snow

You may not realise the build up of snow on your flat roof until it’s too late. As it accumulates, the weight behind it can become quite heavy. Most flat roofs, especially those made with Firestone RubberCover, are designed to withstand harsh weather conditions. If you are a little worried though, there are a few do’s and don’ts for removing snow from a flat roof.

Do’s

  • Start from the edge
  • Use lightweight removal equipment
  • Keep in mind that the tools you’re using may cause damage if you’re being too heavy handed
  • Ensure to keep pathways clear
  • Seek help from a professional roofer if needed

Dont’s

  • Attempt to remove large amounts of snow or ice if you’re not feeling confident
  • Use sharp or heavy tools
  • Try and melt the snow from the roof
  • Move the snow around on the roof
  • Use a standard ladder as this may not give you the sturdiness you need for working at heights

 

You can read our blog post on prepping your flat roof for winter to ensure you’re one step ahead and ready for this year’s cold weather: https://www.avenirroofing.co.uk/2018/08/how-to-prepare-your-flat-roof-for-winter/

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