Massachusetts businesses can help protect their building against roof collapse by managing snow and ice accumulation before, during and after each storm. Snow drifts along ridge lines and on lower roof levels should especially be monitored. It is best to be prepared before the next storm by recognizing the potential hazard of snow or ice load buildup and develop a plan to safely remove the snow.
Managing roof snow load with snow removal. Roof snow removal can be a dangerous task and you should always put safety first. If you have any doubt, call a professional. As your independent business insurance agent, we recommend that you check references and be certain that your contractor is insured and bonded. Have them sign the contract early and make sure they can respond quickly to your call. Make sure the contract has appropriate risk transfer language and that the contractor has adequate insurance coverage to do this work. We’re here to help. Feel free to contact us to help you determine what is adequate for your exposure.
The risk of snow on a roof varies not only by the building structure but also by the depth and condition of the snow. Consider the following snow impact danger zones:
- 4+ feet of light/dry snow
- 1+ foot of heavy/wet snow
- 4+ inches of ice
During snow removal procedures, be cautious that your snow removal efforts do not create new or future problems. Consider the following examples: Do not block building exits. Take extra care not to bury equipment such as fire hydrants, fire sprinkler control valves, gas or other utility valves, vents, etc. Be certain that the location of snow will not cause seepage or flooding during melting.
It is important to be aware of any warning signs of structural stress. Some initial signs could include any of the following:
- Deflection or cracking of structural members
- New cracks in interior and exterior walls
- New cracks on ceilings
- Cracked or broken windows
- Sprinkler heads that have been pushed down below the dropped ceiling
- Unusual creaking or popping noises
- Doors or windows that no longer open or close as freely
If there are any signs of deflection or damage to your building structure, a qualified structural engineer should be immediately contacted. According to Travelers “Helping prevent snow/ice load roof collapse”, you should also be prepared for the following: Be sure you know the location of shutoff valves for gas, water and electrical utilities. Shutdown of gas mains and sprinkler systems may be advisable if collapse is considered likely. Eliminate sources of ignition before turning off sprinkler systems. Contact the fire department and property insurance company before turning off automatic sprinkler systems.
Developing a plan to manage your building snow load is key. Keep an overall snow accumulation record so that you know when and how to engage in snow removal before too much snow and ice accumulates. Consider having your snow removal plan reviewed by a structural engineer and roofing contractor.
The time to find out that your building insurance coverage is incomplete is NOT after you have a claim. Take a moment and review your business insurance coverage.
We’re here to help. For a no cost, no obligation review and comparison of your insurance please contact us.