Calvert Gov. Urges Businesses to Monitor Rooftop Snow Accumulations

PRINCE FREDERICK, Md. (Feb. 09, 2010) – As more snowfall is predicted for the region, the Calvert County Department of Public Safety urges businesses to monitor the accumulation of snow on rooftops to avoid damages or losses as a result of roof failure.

During heavy snow, businesses are usually concerned about keeping driveways, parking lots and walkways clear. However, it is very important not to forget the rooftops. Most roofs are likely capable of handling average winter snowfall, but the cumulative effect of snow can cause roof damage or roof collapse. Recent snowfall totals in the county and predictions for more to come are cause for concern, particularly for businesses that have a high number of employees and/or customers occupying the structure.

Warning signs of a potential roof collapse

Buildings generally exhibit signs that the roof is in distress and action should be taken immediately. The following are some of the symptoms that have been reported prior to roof failure. If any of these signs are present, we would advise you to close the building until the roof can be cleared and assessed.

-- Sagging or visually deformed roof steel

-- Cracked or split wood members

-- Cracks in walls or masonry

-- Cracks in welds of steel construction

-- Sheared off screws from steel frames

-- Sprinkler heads pushed down below ceiling tiles

-- Doors that pop open or doors or windows that are difficult to open or shut properly; this could indicate excessive weight on walls

-- Bowed utility pipes or conduit attached at ceiling

-- Creaking, cracking or popping sounds

Snow Removal for Business Owners

The removal of excessive snow accumulation on rooftops is the best way to prevent a loss. It is important to consider how snow removal will be performed and it is recommended that a qualified contractor perform the work. The following items should be considered:

-- Contact your landlord to determine what plans are in place for rooftop snow removal.

-- If you own the building, evaluate if snow removal can be performed safely by qualified plant personnel. Maintain removal equipment on site (snow blower, shovels, wheelbarrow, etc.)

--- Select a roofing contractor in advance and retain them for these situations.

--- Remember that the use of salt on most roofs will typically void the manufacturer’s warranty.

-- A plan should be developed based on your building’s layout.

-- Make sure roof hatches are clear to allow roof access.

-- Drainage is critical. Keep roof drains open and maintain them.

Remember to exercise extreme caution if you or an employee attempts any type of snow removal. It is recommended that you contact a qualified contractor or your landlord immediately when you have concerns about your roof. If a roof collapse occurs, call 911 immediately and secure personnel in your designated safety meeting area.

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