Canada’s climate can be very unpredictable and even with spring around the corner, significant snowfalls can happen. Spring storms can produce heavy snow and freezing rain, putting strain on buildings and equipment. This wet snow can result in much heavier than expected loads on roofs, exceeding the strength of the roof supports causing the roof to sag or even collapse.

These spring snowfalls are loaded with moisture and produce very wet, heavy buildups that can over-load roof structures. Snow melt won’t immediately remedy the problem as snow will be transformed into water and ice. The accumulation of water and ice will create more stress on the roof and add to the risk of water infiltration. Check your roof for heavy snow accumulations and remove excess snow and ice load conditions that could damage your building. Use caution not to damage the roof when removing the snow – leave a 3-4″ cushion over the roofing.


Risk Factors for Roof Collapse

  • Building age (built before 1977 are more at risk)
  • Structures with flat roofs, low angle peaks or slopes
  • Size (buildings over 5,000 sq. ft. are more at risk)
  • Roofs with different elevations allowing snow drift at changes from 1 story to 2 story etc.
  • Snow accumulations more than 12″


Signs of a Sagging Roof

  • Cracks appearing on interior walls or ceiling
  • Interior doors that fit tighter or jam
  • Building noises


Slip and Fall Prevention:

During spring thaw, it is important to pay attention to icicle formation at roof edges. They could break off and hit pedestrians or vehicles close to the building, resulting in injuries and damages. Water runoff can freeze later in the day, creating ice patches that may result in slip and fall incidents.

  • Remove snow and ice accumulation on roofs and overhangs
  • Keep entrances and exits clear of snow and ice
  • Redirect water runoff away from sidewalks and entrances
  • Sand/salt icy patches regularly (especially when temperature drops below freezing)
  • Install non-skid floor mats at entrances and ensure mats are kept dry
  • Put up “Caution – Wet Floor” signs at entrances and at the end of floor mats
  • Increase the frequency of floor maintenance checks at entrances
  • Document all checks and maintenance


For more information on how to prepare your business for winter storms, please contact one of our risk management professionals. While risk management strategies can reduce your chances for loss, in the event of a loss it is important to ensure your business has the right level of insurance coverage. Visit our TotalProtect Commercial Insurance page to learn about our insurance coverages and how we can help protect your business.

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