The Worst Kind of Snow for Your Roof

The Worst Kind of Snow for Your Roof

Which is worse for your Amherst-area commercial roof: a blanket of fresh snow, or snow from a few days ago? If you face the logistics and cost of rooftop snow removal and do not have a good idea about the snow load, you could be in for an unpleasant, costly, and possibly dangerous surprise.

Fresh, Not Thawed

Fresh snow typically exerts pressures of 10 to 20 pounds per square foot. Give that same snow load a few days to partially thaw and then refreeze. Now it weighs 40 to 60 pounds per square foot.

Obviously the kinds of snow Western Massachusetts businesses see can vary from dry, fluffy powder to heavy, wet snow. The wetter, the heavier, and the heavier, the more dangerous the snow load.


The safest way to calculate snow load is to measure a typical square foot, cut and collect snow in that square area from your roof, and weigh it. Simply sticking a ruler into the snow is not sufficient; you need to know actual weight.

You should already know the square footage of your industrial or commercial roof. A quick multiplication of the weight of one square foot of snow times the total area can point you toward a total snow load to quote the roofing contractor you engage for rooftop snow removal. These figures for total weight and roof area are important so the contractor can have enough workers and shovels on hand to get the snow off safely.

Warning Signs

Keeping an eye on winter weather, the wise facilities manager will track precipitation and unusually warm days, so your roof’s current condition is never a surprise. If you worry that a buildup of snow could lead to partial thawing and refreezing, you need to get the snow load removed as quickly as possible.

Signs your building is not handling the fresh or old snow load properly:

  • Sudden, severe roof leaks
  • Bends in metal trusses
  • Cracks in structural wood members in the roof deck
  • Loud popping noises from the building structure
  • Ponding in rooftop areas that never showed water accumulation before

Prompt rooftop snow removal can not only save your building from collapse and protect your inventory from damage, it can keep your employees safe from icy water leaks and increased humidity. Contact Vanguard Roofing today to learn how our expert snow and ice removal team can protect your business.