Roof Snow Removal Considerations

General Roofing Systems Canada provides roof repairs throughout Canada. Roof Repairs are completed in the following cities: Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lloydminster, Saskatoon, Regina, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Canmore, Banff, Cranbrook, Kelowna, Vancouver, Whistler, Winnipeg, Toronto and points between. British Columbia. Alberta. Saskatchewan. Manitoba. Ontario.

Roofing, Roof Repair – Preventative Roof Maintenance Encouraged Before Winter Comes!

Fall has arrived and winter is just around the corner. This time of year is when people tend to be the most busy, with having just came back from vacation to children starting school and various other activities. With so much on the go for people, the last thing that you want to think about is the ROOF!

Yet the reality remains, this is also the busiest time for roofers, as facility managers and homeowners alike start to prepare the buildings for the harsh weather that winter brings. This is the best time to consider whether or not your roof has any current issues that need attending to.

snow and ice damming
Ice damming across a gutter system

The snow loads in Central Alberta and Northern Alberta were record setting. For many of the roof systems, if they did not fail or have issues last winter, it is almost certain they will have problems this winter.

We have  watched several commercial and industrial roofs completely fail in the Edmonton and Red Deer areas. The roofs literally buckled under the pressure from all the weight of the snow we received. Yet we believe this could have less severe had proper maintenance been taking place before the season hit.

This  winter has proven to be highly unusual. We experience such diversities in the climates all around western Canada. For example, in Vancouver our crews were busy with torrential rain, while in Saskatoon and Regina they were busy with snow falls, and in Calgary it was a constant cycle of  freeze and thaw. All this diverse weather  kept our roofing crews at complete capacity, often having to work many hours of overtime.

Some things to consider for your commercial, industrial, and residential roof maintenance prior to the next winter setting in;

Flat Roofing: Any flat roofing that took on heavy snow loads will most definitely require some attention. We highly recommend that owners heed the warnings from the previous season and at least asses the current quality of there roof, it would be best to have this assessment completed before the first snow fall. We have an annual roof repair and maintenance check list for flat roofing and the maintenance required to be completed listed on our website.


Metal Roofing: Metal roofing was hit the hardest last winter. The reason is that metal roof systems, especially commercial and industrial, had snow loads that compromised the metal roof panel seaming. In other words, the metal panels on the roof have been warped or pressed down so hard that the seams between the panels and the fasteners are compromised. The other issue we are seeing with industrial and commercial metal roofing this year is that many of the gutter systems are damaged.

The problem with metal roof systems on industrial buildings is that when the ice builds up in the gutter it will then back up and enter the building under the metal cladding. Fortunately, there are excellent solutions for metal roof issues yet most cases do require a full replacement.

Nowadays we can coat metal roofing with liquid rubbers. This is a elastomeric spray on roof coatings that will seal the metal roof seams, fasteners, and vents.

To learn more about how to solve metal roof leak problems search the topic on our blog at the top right corner. Simply type in your inquiry and our search engine will show results of the pages to help.

In addition to this, our main web site contains several pages on metal roofing, roof coatings, and roof repairs. You can find this information listed below with  the following links:

Residential Roofs: These systems did not have nearly as many structural  failures that occurred with Industrial and Commercial roofing last year. Although that is not saying that residential roofs, roof attic ventilation and condensation did not have their fair share of complications.  The reason being is that with the snow loads on roofs, the ice damming, condensation and ice backups in gutters, caused numerous problems.

As stated earlier, this winter season has been a treacherous one. Due to this fact, GRS would like to remind everyone to have an assessment completed on their roof for the next season BEFORE snow begins to fall.

Until next time,

The Team at GRS

CONTACT US:
General Roofing Systems Canada (GRS).
24 Hour Emergency Roof Repair: Call +1.877.497.3528 toll-free.

info@grscanadainc.com

Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lloydminster, Saskatoon, Regina, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Canmore, Banff, Cranbrook, Kelowna, Vancouver, Whistler, Winnipeg, Toronto and points between. British Columbia. Alberta. Saskatchewan. Manitoba. Ontario.

Re-Roofing Your Home

Taken from our 2011 archives.

General Roofing Systems Canada is a Comprehensive Building Envelope and Roofing Contractor Serving Canada. Toronto, Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Lloydminster, Saskatoon, Regina, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Canmore, Kelowna, Vancouver, Whistler and points between.

Re-roofing in today’s marketplace has many choices, and we’re on a mission to help and educate homeowners. Re-roofing a home has become complicated (as we’ve learned in writing this article).

So far in 2011, we have received a lot of calls from homeowners about the topic of re-roofing architecturally-defined roofs, or high-profile/luxury/dimensional roofs, such as pine shake in Calgary/Edmonton and cedar in Vancouver. A number of clients have also inquired after rubber tile, synthetic slate, shake, and metal standing seam re-roofing.

The increase in calls may be the realization that in Alberta, primarily Calgary and Edmonton, the pine system has come to the forefront in terms of failures and leaking. The short of it is that pine shakes don’t perform as well as they’re supposed to and most pine roofs are either re-roofed already or need to be soon.

The other reason we are experiencing an increase in calls with higher-end roofing products available for re-roofing is that cedar shake or cedar shingle roofing has changed. We can’t source the old growth cedar roofing we once could. So, homeowners with cedar that needs re-roofing are looking into options such as roof tile, rubber tile, synthetic tile, and shingles with high profiles.

Finally, one other reason for the increased call volume this spring is the winter we just experienced. It was an extreme period in terms of ice damming, snow loads, and attic condensation & ventilation issues – especially in areas like Red Deer and Edmonton. Now, many homeowners are looking to fix the problems that are associated with these conditions, and ultimately a re-roof solution that has both street appeal and utility against the elements.

Fortunately, there are many options available. Unfortunately, the idea of a re-roof for most homeowners isn’t their favourite task, and even worse is that many of the pitched roofers in the community have limited knowledge in this specific area of re-roofing. A subsequent result of this is that a homeowner needs to be extremely cautious in making decisions, as these new roofing products are more costly choices than traditional “shingle to shingle” re-roofing. Mistakes in this regard are costly.

Your re-roofing choices fall into one of the following categories:

  • Metal Roofing (Standing Seam Roofing, Metal Shingles, Steel Shingles, Etc)
  • Tile Roofing (Authentic Concrete Tile or Clay Tile).
  • Rubber Roofing (Rubber Shingles, Rubber Tiles, etc.
  • Slate Roofing (Tru Slate, an authentic quarried Slate, or a Synthetic Slate).
  • Architectural or Designer Shingles (many new shingles are on the market and most are now offering Limited Lifetime Warranties).
  • Cedar Shingles or Cedar Shakes (new growth Cedar re-roofing, not the Cedar roofing of decades ago).
  • Synthetic Slate, Shake, Tile Roofs (Davinci RoofScapes is an example).
  • Traditional Asphalt or Fiberglass Shingles (3 Tab or Laminate Shingles).

That pretty much covers the re-roofing choices or categories for what is available in the market.

Note: The GRS website page “Pitched Roofing” has an exhaustive list of options at this link:
https://www.grscanadainc.com/Pitched_Roofing.html

Now, you have to be very cautious as to who installs or re-roofs these high end roofing products.

Re-roofing with a Davinci Synthetic Slate, Davinci Shake, Rubber Tile, GAF Tru Slate, or a Dimensional Shingle product such as the Presidential TL Lifetime Shingle or the IKO Armourshake or the IKO Royal Estate…. etc etc, is much different than re-roofing a standard 30 Year Cambridge IKO shingle. Be cautious! Ask for re-roofing references. Look at the roofing contractor’s work. Talk to their re-roofing references and perhaps even drive on by the roof and talk with previous re-roofing customers of the roofing contractor.

And be sure the roof underlayment is the best you can buy for your re-roof project and be sure the roofing contractor knows how to install the roof underlay properly.

A roof underlay that doesn’t wrap the complete roof deck or has negative laps does you no good – you end up paying a high cost for roof underlayment that won’t work anyway. Be sure the roofing contractor wraps every roof vent and roof opening such as the backside of skylights or chimneys with some type of high end ice and water underlayment, grace, or blue skin so that when the ice builds up from ice damming and goes under the shingles and works its way to the roof vent attached to the roof sheathing, that the ice can’t get under the vent, as your roof will leak.

Improper underlayment, lack of roof umderlayment, improper installation of vents, chimneys, etc is one primary reason we had literally thousands of calls in the 2010/2011 snow load – roof snow removal / ice damming and attic ventilation problems on roofs.

At GRS we even mandate that our valleys have ice and water in them first, then sheet metal on top of the ice and water in the valley, and then ice and water underlay AGAIN on both sides of the metal and then the shingles. It’s the same concept, the whole roof should get wrapped and what we call neck tied. All roof vents, chimneys, goosenecks, flanges, valleys, everything. And then when the ice dams occur there is no way for the ice to back up and come into the roof system and cause roof leaks.

So, to summarize your considerations when re-roofing your home this season, choosing a Pitched Roof Product that will work as it should and Choosing a Roofing Contractor that will do great work….. here are our words of advice;

  1. Examine your roof product categories first (as we listed above). Metal Roofing, Tile Roofing, Shingles, etc.
  2. Once you have a re-roofing product category in mind, then you need to look at products within that roofing product category. For example, you have chosen to look at pricing for removing or re-roofing shake to tile. You would then look at concrete tile, rubber tile, clay tile, slate tile, synthetic tile, etc. Or let’s say you are re-roofing a Pine Shake and you are now looking at shingles with a similar profile, you would want to look at the dimensional or luxury shingles offered by the various shingle product manufacturers such as IKO, Certainteed, GAF ELK, Malarkey, BP etc.

https://www.grscanadainc.com/Pitched_Roofing.html

  1. That brings you to Roofing Material Manufacturers. Most roofing products, and in the re-roof example above, most roof shingles are good and most roof shingle manufacturers make a great roof shingle. It becomes a sort of “Ford or GM” thing in most cases. Nonetheless, simple web searches or searching sites like consumer reports will tell you about roofing product comparisons. I’m just saying, don’t spend a lot of time on which roofing manufacturer of roofing material you will choose. At GRS, by the way, we have access to every roof shingle or roofing product I know about on the market and we install most regularly, so our position is basically… “let’s pick the right roof system and then choose the specific roofing product or manufacturer”.

Next you want to look at:

4 A. What is under and around and included with your roofing shingles or roof system of choice? and,

4 B. How is your re-roof being installed?. Underneath you want to look at what type specifically of roof underlayment is being used. What roof flashings at the roof eave (drip edge flashing) or at the gable / roof rake edge (rake flashing) are being used? Will it be coloured flashing or galvanized flashing? Will the ice and water underlayment be 44″ wide or 36″ wide? What name brand of underlayment is your roofing contractor proposing? These are very important questions to ask the roofing contractor. Will there be metal in the valleys of the roof and/or ice and water underlay in the roof valleys? Very important. How many nails per shingle will be used? Will the roof hips and ridge be wrapped with underlay or just cut at each hip or ridge or possibily even short of the hip or ridge? Does your roofing contractor know how to wrap a roof with-out any negative laps in the underlayment, etc etc etc. This is your most important step.

  1. Then you need to take a quick look at the roofing contractor themselves. Choosing the Right Roofing Contractor is important. Things such as consumer complaints, memberships with BBB, roofing certifications, re-roof client references, liability insurance in re-roofing is very important, WCB coverage, licensing, provincially registered, etc.

https://www.grscanadainc.com/Choose_Roofing_Contractor.html (Due dilligence check list)

https://www.grscanadainc.com/Services.html (Services and Roofing Accreditations are Listed)

  1. Pricing of the roof then needs to be looked at, but really, a quality roofing contractor that has the experience in re-roofing the products we are talking about that passes the technical re-roof questions and has the licensing and re-roofing references you can validate, will most likely be more costly than the average re-roofing quotation you will receive. Ultimately, you need a quality roofing contractor to execute your re-roof project with character and quality, safely, and who ultimately will charge a fair price for doing an excellent job on your roof. Oh, and after all that, when your re-roof is complete and it has been done with excellence, don’t forget leave your contractor a cheque 🙂

Another quick note is the roofing contractors workmanship guarantee. GRS has an unusual workmanship guarantee in that it lasts for the lifetime you own your home, but even a ten year or a five year workmanship guarantee for a re-roof is fair. You just want to be sure it is unconditional as good roofing workmanship is good the day after the re-roof is completed and it should be good 10 year from now. The re-roofing workmanship doesn’t change over time. The time issue is with the manufacturer’s material warranty.

https://www.grscanadainc.com/Roofing_Installers.html (Explains how and why we can offer a Lifetime Workmanship Guarantee on your re-roof)

That, I believe, covers the lengthy process homeowners have to go through to choose the right roofing product and the right roofing contractor in order to execute the re-roof of a home with success. It is quite a list now that I look back – I can more appreciate why homeowners seem exhausted at times when looking over re-roofing products and options.

All the best with your re-roofing project!

And if there is anything we can do at GRS to assist, even if it is a quick word of advice on the phone about your roof, give us a call, there is always an roofing expert available 24.7 around the clock at +1.877.497.3528 or by email info@grscanadainc.com.

And to request a re-roofing estimate click here for an online form.

Until next time,

The Team at GRS

CONTACT US:
General Roofing Systems Canada (GRS)

24 Hour Emergency Roof Repair: Call +1.877.497.3528 toll-free.

info@grscanadainc.com.

British Columbia | Alberta | Saskatchewan | Manitoba | Ontario

 

Polycarbonate Roof Snow Removal

General Roofing Systems Canada provides polycarbonate roofing and snow/ice removal services throughout Canada. Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lloydminster, Saskatoon, Regina, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Canmore, Banff, Cranbrook, Kelowna, Vancouver, Whistler, Winnipeg, Toronto and points between. British Columbia. Alberta. Saskatchewan. Manitoba. Ontario.

About Polycarbonate Roofing

Polycarbonate roofing is now used in many scenarios. Its use is rooted in its translucence or its ability to let light in. Greenhouses, conservatories, and the like are using this material. Modern roof architecture is introducing polycarbonate in many interesting ways. We are even seeing projects with specifications for polycarbonate “skin”, covering vertical and horizontal areas of the building. Polycarbonates bring building envelope design possibilities above and beyond typical design.

Here’s an interesting inquiry from a Facility Manager of one of the largest home improvement stores in the world that came in today from Wilkesboro, North Carolina in the United States.

What recommendation would your company have in regards to snow removal on polycarbonate roofs?

Polycarbonate Roofing Sheet
Polycarbonate Roofing Sheet

There are many polycarbonate roof assembly scenarios. It could be a greenhouse, for instance. If the assembly is small enough, you could use a roof rake; in the case of large conservatory, this may be more difficult.

Our roof snow removal protocols are simply a snow shovel and roof rake with the understanding that larger roofing systems need an engineering recommendation prior to starting.

If the roof is not walkable or could be damaged such as with a polycarbonate roof, then creative ways to access the roof for snow removal need to be developed. Quite often we will use lifts, frame walkways, cranes, etc. Ultimately it depends on the roof assembly design and the building.

Other interesting notes on Polycarbonate Roofing:

If your interest in is polycarbonate roofing supply for a greenhouse we found this link that looks comprehensive for buyers: http://www.greenwallsolutions.com/

This is all that Wikipedia has to say about Polycarbonate Roofing: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lexan

Until next time,

The Team at GRS

CONTACT US:
General Roofing Systems Canada (GRS)

24 Hour Emergency Roof Repair: Call +1.877.497.3528 toll-free.

info@grscanadainc.com.

British Columbia | Alberta | Saskatchewan | Manitoba | Ontario

 

Roof Snow Removal: Alaska Digs Out

General Roofing Systems Canada removes snow and ice throughout Canada. Flat Roof Repair; Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lloydminster, Saskatoon, Regina, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Canmore, Banff, Cranbrook, Kelowna, Vancouver, Whistler, Winnipeg, Toronto and points between. British Columbia. Alberta. Saskatchewan. Manitoba. Ontario.

CAUTION: DO NOT REMOVE SNOW FROM THE ROOF YOURSELF!

GRS Canada, Inc. has removed snow and ice from hundreds of residential, commercial, and industrial rooftops throughout Alberta, BC, and Saskatchewan.

We have also consulted facility managers at commercial and industrial facilities all over the world on proper snow removal protocols, techniques, and adherence to structural engineering. Live loads on rooftops are important to consider, proer safety for the workers on a roof is critical, and knowing how to remove snow from a roof may just save the lives of the workers and occupants in the building.

Our article on rooftop safety and roof snow removal was spurred by the roof collapse in Anchorage, Alaska and the subsequent news reports talking about “roof snow removal parties”. Our concern is that folks think it is OK to remove snow from roofs without using professional providers.

MUNICIPALITY OF ANCHORAGE ISSUES PRESS RELEASE MARCH 2, 2012

ANCHORAGE– In the last few weeks several roofs in Anchorage have failed due
to stress from snow. The buildings involved were generally older (pre-1980) with
flat roofs. Several, but not all, failed where snow had drifted.
Newly fallen snow is not very dense. However, over the course of the winter
accumulated snow on roofs becomes denser. Per current code the design snow
load in Anchorage is 40 pounds per square foot (psf), which is equivalent to
approximately two feet of dense snow. A roof designed to current code should
not have problems until the load is significantly higher than 40 psf.
It is recommended that building owners and managers monitor the snow loads
on their roofs. Of special concern are older buildings with flat roofs, and those
with areas of snow drifting, such as at parapets and lower roofs. Special
attention should also be paid to long overhangs where snow blankets are draping
over the roof edge.
If one hears creaking in the roof, observes excess deflection in trusses or beams,
or sees bowing of columns, immediate investigation by a structural engineer is
warranted.
Conditions on roofs may worsen as additional snow falls in March and April,
building owners should consider preventative roof shoveling. Shoveling a roof is
inherently dangerous, so special precautions should be taken. The intent is to
lighten the roof load by removing a significant portion of the snow, not
necessarily all of it. Trying to remove all of the snow down to the roofing could
increase the danger of a shoveler sliding off the roof as well as causing damage
to the roofing materials.”

DO NOT REMOVE THE SNOW FROM YOUR ROOF YOURSELF – ROOFS COLLAPSE.

Firefighters responded to a callers reporting structural collapse at the South Anchorage church Friday March 2, 2012. Firefighters initially were called with reports of a fire at the Abbott Loop Community Church at 2626 Abbott Rd. shortly after 6 p.m. Callers reported smoke, including one caller reporting an explosion.

ROOF SNOW REMOVAL PROTOCOLS AND CONSIDERATIONS

How much snow is too much?

Live loads are an important consideration when assessing rooftop snow and possible removal. You need to know how much snow and ice rooftaps can hold safely, what the effects are of ice buildup on roof systems, and how to properly remove the snow so that the building does not become structurally unsound and collapse while you are removing the snow.

Generally speaking – and depending on where you live – most flat roof systems are constructed to safely hold a maximum of 15 to 20 cm or ice or 35 to 40 cm of hard pack snow (70 to 80 cm of fresh snow).

There are many other considerations such as the engineering and age of teh building, or how often the roof can withstand the snow loads.

In Alberta, building codes (as of 2006) require roofs to withstand about 40 lb. of snow per square foot once every 50 years. In this fashion, one can predicate how much their building can withstand every years.

If the snow load on your roof is getting close to the calculations above, you need to have the snow removed from your roof.

Time is also important when considering roof load capacity – this is called the fatigue factor.

Roof collapse can occur on roof systems that have half or less of the live load described above.

Measuring Roof Snow Loads

A “safe” amount of snow or ice on a roof is none at all. Removing the snow will mitigate ice damming, which will keep the roof membrane in a good condition. Regular removal will also keep the roof drains working properly.

When the ice and snow starts melting in the spring, be sure a knowledgeable roofing contractor or a trained maintenance person is regularly checking the roof drains or scuppers to ensure that the water is flowing down the drains, as opposed to filling your flat roof up like a pond.

If you are still convinced that you can remove the snow and ice from the roof yourself, please refer to our blog article here. We provide safety considerations as well as a “how-to” guide.

IN THE PRESS…

From the Edmonton Sun Newspaper:

“General Roofing Systems advises that the snow isn’t as much 
of the problem as is the ice build-up underneath. Snow melts, it freezes and then is covered by a new layer of snow. The process repeats until the ice sheet becomes too heavy for the roof to bear. Trouble may not show up until the spring thaw when water that ended up freezing in the attic melts and comes through the ceiling. Then, of course there is the possibility that all that weight will 
cause structural failure.”

Contact Us:
General Roofing Systems Canada (GRS)

24 Hour Emergency Roof Repair: Call +1.877.497.3528 toll-free. info@grscanadainc.com.

 

British Columbia | Alberta | Saskatchewan | Manitoba | Ontario

Rooftop Snow Removal

General Roofing Systems Canada provides roof snow removal throughout Canada. roof snow removal; Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lloydminster, Saskatoon, Regina, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Canmore, Banff, Cranbrook, Kelowna, Vancouver, Whistler, Winnipeg, Toronto and points between. British Columbia. Alberta. Saskatchewan. Manitoba. Ontario

Near Record Snow Fall Causes Roofs to Collapse

120 Inches of Snow Has Fallen on Rooftops in Anchorage, Alaska!

The snow just won’t let up in Anchorage, Alaska this year and roofs are starting to collapse due to stress from the weight load.

Nearly 120 inches of snow has fallen so far this winter making it the fourth snowiest winter on record and the situation has the municipality struggling to keep up.

SG1S1582
GRS 24 Hour Roof Snow Removal Crew Hard at Work on an Edmonton Commercial Roof.

Last year in Edmonton, AB we experienced the exact same problem. As a result of this GRS had hundreds of our roofers working day and night for a month to clear snow from rooftops. They were clearing roofs as small as homes to manufacturing and commercial buildings the size of football fields. This was truly a team effort of around the clock work! The members at GRS would like to send a message out to Anchorage Roofing Companies to stay safe and all the best! Also we would like to remind every one that Roofs do collapse so it is imperative to put those harnesses on and know how the engineering of roof systems work before you start removing the snow. We had a number of roofs last year almost collapse under our workers!

The following is an excerpt out of the Alaskapublic.org website:

“The continuing snowfall also has Sharen Walsh, the building official for the Municipality of Anchorage concerned. She’s worried about snow loads on roof tops.

“Well, we’re definitely watching the situation. And we have had some roofs in town that have shown signs of stress or strain or cracking. We’ve had, I believe people have seen in the news, two roofs that have actually collapsed,” Walsh said.

Those roofs were on older buildings with flat roofs with malfunctioning draining systems. She says most roofs are still okay. Another problem, Walsh says though, is ice dams created by heat sources such as ridge vents or plumbing vents that melt snow and refreeze it.

“Those are quite a nuisance. They can cause water damage within the structure. We’re to the point where if a person has an older structure, they’ve seen some signs of stress on it. Maybe some sheet rock cracking in their ceiling, they might want to consider lightening that load,” Walsh said.

Again everyone here at GRS is reminding people in Anchorage to stay safe!

ABOUT US:

General Roofing Systems Canada (GRS) is a Roof Repair and Replacement Contractor Servicing BC, AB, SK. Roofers in Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lloydminster, Saskatoon, Regina, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Canmore, Cranbrook, Kelowna, Vancouver, Whistler, and various points between.

CONTACT US:
General Roofing Systems Canada (GRS)
24 Hour Emergency Roof Repair: Call +1.877.497.3528 toll-free.

info@grscanadainc.com

Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lloydminster, Saskatoon, Regina, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Canmore, Banff, Cranbrook, Kelowna, Vancouver, Whistler, Winnipeg, Toronto and points between. British Columbia. Alberta. Saskatchewan. Manitoba. Ontario.

Roof Snow Removal, Ice and Snow Loads on Roofs

General Roofing Systems Canada (GRS) has extensive experience with roof snow removal, ice dam removal, and emergency roof response. Rooftop Snow Removal in the following cities: Edmonton, Red Deer, Calgary, Fort McMurray, Lloydminster, Saskatoon, Regina, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Canmore, Cranbrook, Kelowna, Vancouver, Whistler, and points between.

A Snowfall Warning was Issued at 4:21am for Edmonton, Red Deer, and other parts of Alberta.

The current question remains : Will the roofs be able to hold 15 – 20 cm if we actually receive that amount of snow on our roofs. 

Environment Canada Snowfall Advisory that is presently released by the weather network

snow
General Roofing Roof Snow Removal Crew on Industrial Roof

Snowfall Warning

Issued at 4:21 AM MST Friday 24 February 2012

Summary

Snow is on the way.

Details

A strong low pressure system off the British Columbia coast is forecast to track into Alberta today. Snow will begin in the Whitecourt region late this afternoon and will spread east southeastward into the Edmonton region by late evening. 10 to 15 centimetres of snow is expected by Saturday evening.
Snow removal services are a key part of our business. So when weather advisories like this occur, we are not disappointed as it enables our roofers to remain busy during the winter months.

HOWEVER, considering what happened last winter where  roof collapses were almost daily  due to business owners with commercial buildings in Edmonton, Red Deer, and other areas of central and northern Alberta being caught off guard and not able to get the snow off their roof-tops.

SNOW REMOVAL from a flat roof in a timely fashion is serious issue that GRS does not take lightly,

One of our main concerns is with some  owner’s of the commercial buildings, especially those with large roof spans that have had major snow loads on their roofs last winter and have not taken the steps to structurally repair their roof systems.  So when this amount of snow gets dumped on the roofs,  Especially in one fall in such a short period of time, the snow will then get wetter and heavier causing more damage. Once the snow melts it is almost guaranteed that there will be a significant amount of damage and problems. We can almost expect a significant amount of calls coming from the Edmonton, Red Deer and area this weekend and next week.

HOW MUCH SNOW CAN A FLAT ROOF IN GOOD STRUCTURAL CONDITION HOLD WITHOUT IT COLLAPSING? The answer to that question is complicated. It depends on the roof span of the trusses, whether or not it is a flat roof or sloped roof etc. Last year there were roofs with less than 18″ that collapsed, but these were poorly designed and had very large roof spans.  The problem is not just specifically snow, it is the rain on snow and the melting snow turning to ice or blocked roof drains when rains come. Considering the storms that Alberta had last winter with such drastic snow loads, there is a strong  likelihood that many roof systems were weakened. Our advise is to remove snow from flat roofs  in Alberta , especially if the snow loads are predicted to be quite large.

For more information on roof snow removal, ice dams, snow loads, attic ventilation and condensation, and various other things that occur to roofs when snow and ice cause havoc, you can search our blog. We have a number of articles written by our crews that have fought the snow loads on rooftops last season.

ABOUT US:

General Roofing Systems Canada (GRS) is a Comprehensive Building Envelope and Roofing Contractor serving Western Canada. Including such areas as: Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Lloydminster, Saskatoon, Regina, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Canmore, Kelowna, Vancouver, Whistler, and various points between.

CONTACT US:
General Roofing Systems Canada (GRS)
24 Hour Emergency Roof Repair: Call +1.877.497.3528 toll-free.

info@grscanadainc.com

Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lloydminster, Canmore, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, Vancouver, Whistler, Cranbrook, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg, Toronto and all points between. British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Ontario.

Flat Roof Snow and Ice Removal | Flat Roof Drainage

General Roofing Systems Canada proves roof snow and ice removal services throughout Canada. Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lloydminster, Saskatoon, Regina, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Canmore, Banff, Cranbrook, Kelowna, Vancouver, Whistler, Winnipeg, Toronto and points between. British Columbia. Alberta. Saskatchewan. Manitoba. Ontario.

The interesting thing about roof snow loads and ice problems is that homeowners are much quicker to respond than our commercial and industrial customers.

The truth is that commercial and industrial buildings are much more susceptible to roof failure, damage, or leaks than residential buildings.

Commercial Flat Roof Snow and Ice Removal
Commercial Flat Roof Snow and Ice Removal

The main reason for this is that commercial roofs are typically flat and in some cases metal systems.

To exemplify the complications, allow me to refer to a commercial client in Edmonton (bookstore on Whyte Avenue) who we serviced back in 2011. It took senior management hours to figure out how to safely get the ice dams and roof snow on various decks to the ground from that roof because there are so many variables involved. Consider as well that this was a five-storey building. The client, of course, is wondering why the crew is taking so long to begin with removal. The reality is there can be hundreds of variables to consider, check, and recheck prior to starting a commercial roof snow removal project such as this.

Considerations for a commercial or industrial roof can include (as was the case here), and may not be limited to:

Power lines, OHS (Occupational Health and Safety) concerns, pedestrian traffic, vehicular traffic, rooftop equipment of various kinds on different types of roof terraces, ground spotter safety, Bobcats and dump trucks operating, roof membrane considerations, window safety, unbalanced weight loads leading to collapse or significant structural damage, tie-off points, proper commercial insurance, and WCB (Workers’ Compensation Board).

The point here is there are many considerations when removing ice and snow from a flat roof system and far too many people just jump into shoveling off a roof without thinking through what may happen if the process is handled incorrectly.

An experienced flat roof company can also assess your roof while conducting ice and snow removal for any maintenance or repairs that may be required prior to the spring melt, at which times leaks will occur.

There is a Balance between Removing Ice and Damaging Your Roof

Ice build ups at Drains
Ice build ups at Drains

Far too many people, in our experience, desire ice to be removed and do so without considering the consequences.

The equipment and tools used for removal can damage the roof. Hammers, shovels, scrapers, chainsaws, spiker shoes, and de-icers are just some of the examples of what can cause damage to the roof, regardless of how careful you may be.

Ice on a Flat Roof or Low Slope Roof System

When assessing your roof and possible remedies, the considerations are:

  • Is the ice causing a structural problem with my roof?
  • Is it a potential hazard to pedestrian traffic below?
  • Will the ice cause issues with the flat roof membrane when it melts by way of leaking?

The rule of thumb when dealing with the ice on your roof is to do as little as possible and leave what is not going to hurt someone or cause structural failure. Removing dangerous ice overhangs, icicles, and making drainage paths may be all that needs to occur. Of course, if there is a structural concern, then more aggressive action may be necessary.

Most importantly, plan ahead. One of the main problems people have with emergency roof snow or ice removal is that they way too long. It is best to engage a roofing contractor early on to assess and get them active on your life. That way, if emergency services are required, you will naturally be closer to the front-end of service considerations for the contractor as they are already aware and on top of your situation.

The Most Common Solution

In most cases, the ice on a flat roof is dealt with by affecting proper drainage and not through complete removal. Snow can be completely removed, of course, but ice is mostly handled through effective drainage considerations.

Flat Roof Ice & Snow Assessment and Removal Procedures

Industrial Roof Snow Removal
Industrial Roof Snow Removal

As a general guide in Canada, most flat roof systems are constructed to safely hold a maximum of 15 to 20 cm of ice, 35 to 40 cm of hard pack snow (about 70 to 80 cm of fresh snow). If you are getting close to these numbers, or if you have a flat roof or metal low slope roof system that has large roof spans, you will need to lighten the roof load.

The trouble with assessing by depth of snow or volume is that many factors come into play.

  • Who built the roof system?
  • What was the specification?
  • Have there been renovations below? What are the spans?
  • How old is the roof system?

We have seen roof systems collapse that had snow loads under the general guideline above.

Ultimately, if you have a structural concern (look for signs of stress inside the building), contact a structural engineer as soon as possible

Flat Roof Snow Removal

As noted above, there can be hundreds of considerations when removing snow from a flat roof. The man goal, which many folks miss, is for everyone to go home safe and sound. We strongly encourage you not to take on the task yourself.

Flat Roof Drainage and Ice Issues

Ice expansion (later pressure from ice expansions) on a flat roof can cause significant damage to roof top units, parapet walls, flat roof flashing, skylights, elevator shafts, etc. To avoid damage and roof leaks, you can work toward drainage maintenance steps that may help the issues.

The goal is to separate the ice field on your roof from what ice expansion may cause issues with on your flat roof. 

Periodically, as winter progresses, you may have to go to work again at this and separate the ice from the aforementioned sections. Once again, we recommend a professional to take this on for you.

Steps to proper flat roof drainage with ice causing issues (central flat roof drainage systems)

Large Flat Roof Snow Removal Project
Large Flat Roof Snow Removal Project
  1. The first step is to remove the snow from the roof so that the warm roof underneath does not create ice. This is true for both commercial and residential high slope roofs.
  2. Use electrical cables to separate an ice dam or ice field from areas that may be damaged.
  3. Clear about 1 ft. to 3 ft. all around the drain area by using hot water or non-corrosive de-icers. If you really know what you are doing, you can use tools – but be careful not to damage the roof membrane.
  4. Lay the electrical cables (heat wire) starting at the drain and extending to each corner of the roof. Run loops around obstructions in the way such as skylights or rooftop units.
  5. If it is not too cold, the cables will melt their way to the surface of the flat roof giving you pathways for drainage.
  6. Chemical de-icers can be used in the same pattern, but be sure you are using non-corrosive de-icers.
  7. Hot water can also be used to cut drainage paths with some success.
  8. Steam trucks are not considered by most to be an effective method.
Contact Us:
General Roofing Systems Canada (GRS)

24 Hour Emergency Roof Repair: Call +1.877.497.3528 toll-free. info@grscanadainc.com.

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