The following is an excerpt from the article “Preventing Ice Dams on Businesses.” For more information please visit disastersafety.org.
FOR FLAT, MONOSLOPE, LOW SLOPED ROOF SYSTEMS:
- Commercial buildings with flat roofs are particularly vulnerable to water leaks if
ice dams keep water from flowing into roof drains.
- If the building has a history of ice dams, removing the snow will remove the source of a potential ice dam.
- A heavy duty push broom with stiff bristles may be used to brush off the snow on low slope or flat roofs. A shovel or snow blower should not be used since they may tear up the roof cover system.
- Ice dams don’t actually have to clog the drains and in fact the drains are frequently clear and open. The ice forms a ring around the drain and sometimes a dome over the drain that keeps water from flowing.
- If ice dams form around the drains, heating cables can be connected to the drains to prevent ice buildup.
- Heating cables can be installed in a zig zag manner in gutters.
- Heating cables can also be placed on the roof, connecting them to the drainage system so a path is created for the melting ice to follow.
- If there is extensive ice build-up around the drains, consult a roof contractor to ensure that the roof cover system is adequately sloped to the drains.
- When the roof is dry, inspect the roof cover for evidence of long term standing water. This will be evident by the presence of mold, mildew, and even small vegetation growing. This indicates a problem with the slope of the roof cover system; which will reduce proper water shed and drainage. The roof cover system can likely be re-pitched with additional insulation boards by a roof contractor.
- In low sloped roof buildings, the space above a suspended ceiling located below the roof may be heated and cooled like the occupied area below. If that is the case, there is no need to insulate above the suspended ceiling or seal the ceiling’s penetrations.