The Roof is Falling! | Collapsing roofs in Buffalo, NY

Have you heard about the BIG snow in Buffalo, New York?  Here are some of the headlines –

“The death toll from the epic snowstorm this week climbed by three on Friday to 13.”

” At least 30 building collapses were reported overnight, mostly farm buildings and flat-roof structures”

Apparently keeping snow on your roof is a very BAD idea.

OR IS IT?

Let’s not jump to conclusions here.  Keep in mind a couple of descriptive words in those headlines, particularly “flat roofs” and “epic snowstorm.”

Flat Roofs

Note that most roof collapsing happened on farm buildings and flat roof structures.  Since out buildings are often built without regard to standard building codes and often are very old buildings, this makes sense.   Remember that even with 30 older, flat roof or  outbuilding roofs collapsing, that means that 99+% of all buildings are NOT collapsing.

Epic snowstorm

Heavy snowstorms happen in all snowy areas and they are considered when planning for roof snow loads.  The snow loads are computed by structural engineers and those that set standards for buildings based on a 50 year Mean Recurrence  snow load.  They take into account ground snow loads, roof drainage, snowdrifting and other thermal factors.

snow collapses room

SO WHY ARE SOME ROOFS COLLAPSING?

In the Northeast during the winter of 2010-2011, roofs collapsed, leading to studies by prominent engineers*.   Their conclusions can help us understand these distressing headlines and bring some comfort to people who are frightened by these headlines.

The first reason for roof failures has to do with when the building was constructed.  In Connecticut in 2011 of the 175 roofs that collapsed, 107 were built before Connecticut adopted its first state-wide building code in 1971.  In addition outbuildings like barns were exempt from snow load provisions, resulting in collapse.

The second reason for roof failures showed that poor performance was “hidden” structural defects such as inadequate slope to drainage resulting in ponding loads, blocked roof drains, solar panels causing dead loads, structural support removal,  material deterioration over time.

 

Roof snow load calculations

So, DON’T WORRY!

If your structure was built according to modern building codes, have no fear!  Use our snow retention products to keep that snow from moving, melting in place, and providing an insulative blanket during the cold months ahead.  You’ll be comfortable, safe and sound.

* http://www.structuremag.org/?p=1155