The Effects of Heavy Snow on Your Roof

According to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), roof damage from snow and ice is one of the leading causes of property damage in the United States. In fact, the IBHS estimates that more than 20% of all insurance claims for commercial property damage are related to winter weather events, including heavy snow and ice.  This is why it’s important for building owners to take proactive steps to prevent damage and ensure that their roofs are able to withstand extreme weather conditions.

For those of us in Santa Fe, NM, we received a significant amount of snow in 2023. In this blog post, we’ll explore the effects of heavy snow on roofs, particularly flat roofs, and provide tips for preventing damage.

How Snow Can Damage A Roof

Heavy snow can affect a roof, regardless of its shape or slope. One of the most significant effects of heavy snow is the added weight it places on the roof, particularly when the snow is wet and heavy. This weight can exceed the load-bearing capacity of the roof, leading to structural damage.

Another effect of heavy snow is the formation of ice dams. As snow on a roof melts and refreezes, it can create ice dams, which are walls of ice that form along the edges of the roof. Ice dams can prevent water from draining off the roof, leading to water damage and leaks. Additionally, when warm air from the interior of a building meets a cold roof surface, it can cause condensation to form, which can lead to water damage and mold growth in the roof structure. Finally, heavy snow can deform or warp the roof, particularly if the roof is made of a flexible material like plastic or rubber.

Snow Damage on Flat Roofs

For those of us with a flat roof, significant amounts of snow can present a different set of problems. With multiple snow storms hitting the Santa Fe area in 2023, snow accumulation on your flat roof may have become a reality. Below are three common issues that typically occur when snow accumulates on a flat roof:

1) Ponding – Ponding water is one of the most common problems that can occur on flat roofs. This happens when water is unable to drain off the roof, which can lead to leaks, mold growth, and structural damage.

2) Added Weight -The lack of slope on a flat roof means that the snow can not come off the roof until it melts or is removed. If areas of your roof do not receive direct sunlight, the snow can accumulate from storm to storm. This added weight can cause structural damage to your roof, causing it to warp or collapse.

3) Damage to Roof Membrane -Flat roofs are often covered with a membrane designed to protect the roof from water damage. As mentioned in the point above, if warping occurs on your roof, it can cause damage to your roof’s protective membrane, leading to leaks and water damage.

Steps for Preventing Roof Damage

Regular roof maintenance is critical for preventing damage to flat roofs from heavy snow. Flat roofs are particularly vulnerable to damage because they don’t have the slope that sloped roofs have to allow snow and ice to slide off more easily. With flat roofs, snow, and ice can accumulate and add significant weight to the roof structure, leading to leaks, cracks, and even collapse. Regular inspections can help identify potential issues early on, such as cracks or weakened areas, that can be repaired before they worsen. Building owners should also ensure that their flat roofs have proper drainage systems in place, such as gutters and downspouts, to prevent water from accumulating on the roof. With regular maintenance, building owners can help extend the lifespan of their flat roofs and prevent costly damage from heavy snow.

Santa Fe Stucco and Roofing can also be contracted for routine roof inspections. Regular roof inspections can help identify potential problems before they become serious. During inspections,  we look for signs of damage such as cracks, warping, and water damage, and inspect the roof’s structural integrity.

If you’re a building owner in Santa Fe, NM, and you’re concerned about the damage heavy snow can cause to your flat roof, Santa Fe Stucco and Roofing can help. With over 20 years of experience in the roofing industry, we have the knowledge and expertise to handle all aspects of flat roof replacement and maintenance, including damage caused by snow. Our team of skilled professionals can conduct regular roof inspections to identify any potential issues early on and provide cost-effective solutions to prevent damage from worsening. In the event that your flat roof has sustained damage from heavy snow, we can provide quick and efficient repair services to restore the integrity of your roof and prevent further damage. As a locally owned and operated business, we understand the unique needs of the Santa Fe community and are dedicated to providing quality workmanship and excellent customer service. Contact us today to speak to one of our roofing experts.