The unusually warm winter in the Northeast may have led many retail facility managers to be lax with their battle plans to guard against snow and roof collapse. But recent snowstorms caused more than a few roof collapses, and several retail facility managers called us to fix the issue. We’re always ready to help, but we understand that roof collapses probably don’t factor into yearly budget, and can endanger lives. It’s not too late to prevent roof collapse during winter weather events.
Prior to the next snowstorm—and ideally before the winter starts—you should ensure that building roofs have the adequate load capacity for impending snowfall. Builds should be thoroughly inspected for damage and cracks, and drains and gutters should be cleared in order to prevent ice accumulation, which contributes to roof collapse. Also be aware that standing seam metal roofs and wood bowstring truss roofs have inherent structural problems that could put your building at greater risk for roof collapse. All repairs on any issues that you find should be performed in the fall, well ahead of winter storm season.
Once winter arrives, you should have a snow removal plan in place. Set up a system to monitor expected snowfall and closely track it as it happens. Once your snow removal plan is needed, it should be performed by trained individuals who will use the correct equipment and the most efficient methods of removal. Additionally, exits, fire hydrants and utility valves remain should unblocked during removal process Have your removal plan reviewed by a structural engineer or roofing contractor before making it official. And—importantly—know the warning signs of collapse so that you know when to leave if you suspect collapse is imminent.
In addition to a snow removal plan, have a contingency plan in case of an emergency in which the roof does, in fact, collapse. Your plan should include relocation strategies and assurance that you will turn off gas, water and electric utilities as well as sprinkler systems. Report claims and damaged to an insurance company immediately so that you incur the fewest expenses. Afterwards, don’t despair over the damage. Call a build-out company (we are one of the leading national facilities maintenance companies) that offers emergency repair and demolition services to secure the area, clean up and build out a structurally sound building.