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Fran Onofrio
Mason, Inc.
203.393.1101 x169

Acadia Insurance Offers Tips to Reduce the Risk of Roof Collapse Due to Snow Accumulation

Damaging winter has led to increased risk of costly damage to buildings and rooftops

(Feb. 08, 2011) – During the winter months in the Northeast, heavy snow accumulation on rooftops pose a risk for collapse and severe damage to buildings.  This harsh winter has specifically presented business owners with the challenge of removing accumulating snow from the rooftop of their business as a means of preventing costly losses due to collapse. 

“The first step business owners should consider is to identify all high-risk areas around the building where a collapse is likely due to a heavy snow load,” said Bobbi Amero, Chief Underwriting Officer for Acadia Insurance.  “If needed, it is then essential to begin snow removal before it becomes critical, and this removal should be done by knowledgeable, experienced employees or by experienced outside contractors who regularly work in this area and carry appropriate insurance.” 

“High-risk areas” on a rooftop may include: large open flat roofs, barrel roofs, roofs with less than 30 degrees of slope, multi-level roofs, heavily insulated roofs, roofs with previous structural damage and those that have already experienced collapse.  It is also important to pay attention to roof areas that are shaded from direct sunlight, which may cause snow to freeze into ice thus increasing the snow load.

Acadia Insurance offers the following tips to business owners to help reduce the potential collapse of the roof on their buildings:

  • Have roof inspected by a civil engineer to determine the snow load that can be safely handled by the design of the roof
  • Create a roof plot plan to identify skylights, hatches, drains, pipes, wiring and load bearing walls and update plot plans regularly to include any changes made to the rooftops such as added equipment
  • Monitor rooftop conditions throughout the winter during a storm to identify ice build-up, snow drifts and blocked drains
  • Keep up with preventative maintenance throughout the year to maintain the roof’s integrity

Additionally, special care should be taken when removing snow from rooftops to prevent damage to the roof’s membrane.  Business owners should consider these guidelines when removing snow:

  • Try to avoid removing snow all the way down to the roof covering
  • Use plastic shovels rather than metal
  • Use a plastic tarp to fill with snow and release over the side of the building, but watch areas where snow is landing
  • Adjust snow blowers to prevent rotating components from coming into contact with roof surface

For additional tips to help reduce the likelihood of roof collapse to your business, download the “Snow Load Exposures” bulletin at: