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Heavy Snow Causes Rash of Roof Collapses
February 19, 2021 - Contact FacilitiesNet Editorial Staff »
An entire season’s worth of snow in the Midwest in just the last three weeks has caused a rash of roof collapses on industrial and commercial buildings.
In Chicago, at least eight roof collapses have been reported, including a canopy collapse at an off-track betting facility that left one man dead, according to NBC Chicago. In the South Holland suburb, an entire storage facility collapsed. Thankfully, the building was vacant and one was hurt. This was one of several vacant south-side buildings that have collapsed over the last week, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. In Elgin, an unoccupied banquet hall collapsed. And in Morton Grove, heavy snow on the roof caused the roof of an indoor training facility for horses to collapse, resulting in a gas leak, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. The horses were moved to an alternate location, and no horses or humans were harmed.
The weight of the snow isn’t the only potential problem, say experts. In the coming weeks, as the freeze/thaw cycle begins in earnest, especially on sloped roofs, ice dams will become a huge problem. This happens when snow melts and then refreezes and backs up under the roof material, causing leaks, the roofing material to lift up, and other havoc.
Facility managers worried about the weight of the snow on their facilities’ roofs have several courses of action, according to experts. The first and most obvious step is simply to go up to the roof and remove as much of the snow as you can. Another solution is to bring a consultant or structural engineer to your property to assess the potential risk.
For more tips, check out this Building Operating Management article by roof consultant John D’Annunzio on how facility managers can best care for their roofs during the winter months.