5 Tips for Protecting a Flat Roof from Snow Damage


Flat roofs are a hot trend in modern home design. Their sleek look exudes elegance and modernity.Flat roofs are a hot trend in modern home design. Their sleek look exudes elegance and modernity. 
Beyond their image, flat roofs help increase energy efficiency and take less materials to construct than sloped roofs.

But in Colorado and other snowy states, flat roofs also present a problem once the winter hits.

Flat roofs can be more susceptible to water leakage throughout the winter and spring. They can even collapse under the weight of too much snow and ice build-up. But with proper planning and maintenance, you can keep your roof and home safe throughout the winter.

From waterproofing your roof to annual inspections, we’ve got the tips you need to make sure your roof doesn’t fall victim to snow, ice, or water damage this winter.

1. Water Proof Your Roof

Waterproofing is your roof’s first defense against rain, ice and snow damage.

Waterproof membranes (which acts like a watertight sheet that covers your roof), typically last 20-30 years.

Find out from your home’s seller or from the builder when a waterproof membrane was installed and/or replaced.

If the clock is ticking down on the life of your waterproofing, you’ll want to make sure it’s looked at closely when you get your roof inspected.

2. Inspect Your Roof Annually

A professional inspection is the most effective way to stop roof problems before they happen.

Check that the roofing professional you’re hiring has insurance, a safety record, and good reviews from customers online.

A certified inspector will look for any tears or damage to your waterproofing membrane, and inspect the integrity of your roof’s structure.

Make sure the inspector also checks that all your drainage outlets are working properly.

Get your roof inspected at least once a year to spot and prevent roof damage before it becomes a more serious issue.

The best time to inspect your roof is at the end of summer, before the weather changes.

3. Clear Drainage Outlets

If your drains are blocked with leaves, twigs, or a misdirected football from a pickup game last fall, they could cause a leak when water from melted snow has nowhere to go.

Before winter hits, be sure to clean out your gutters so snow melt and ice can drain throughout the winter and spring.

At the end of the fall, you should also be sure to sweep your entire roof clean. Leaves in one corner of the roof could get blown into those drains and block them later in the season.

Blocked drains could lead to more than water on your roof. They can also create ice dams, which is a ridge of ice at the edge of your roof that can block water from being able to drain.

4. Make Sure Your Roof is Properly Insulated

With a flat roof, you don’t have the typical attic space afforded by a sloped roof. Without that space, heat inside your house can warm up your roof, melting any snow that’s piled up.

When water from that melted snow works its way to the edges of your roof where it isn’t as warm, and then re-freezes, it can also form ice dams.

Insulating your roof will prevent the heat in your home from melting the snow on the roof.

Here are 4 ways you can insulate your flat roof:

5. Clear Snow Regularly

When you’ve got a flat roof, it’s important to clear off snow after a storm. Too much snow can lead to a lot of issues like ice dams, water leaking into your home and even a full or partial collapse of your roof.

So how do you know when it’s time to clear the snow off your roof? Check your doors.

Go through your home and open and close every door. Focus especially on interior doors, near the center of the house.

If any door sticks more than usual or is difficult to open, it could mean the snow on your roof has added so much extra weight that it’s compressing your home’s structure, making your door frames slightly smaller.

If the door test goes smoothly, the amount of snow on your roof may not be enough to worry about. But if your door sticks, it’s time to clean the snow off your roof.

How to Clear the Snow Off Your Flat Roof

Don’t go on your roof to clean off the snow. Snow and ice on your roof make it too slippery and dangerous to stand on.

If your home is one-story, try to clean it from the ground using a snow rake. This will let you pull snow down off the roof from the ground.

Get off as much as you can, and then re-do the door check. You might need to wait a day or so for the house to release some pressure from this door frames.

If getting on the roof is required to clear off the snow, then you need to hire a professional who can specializes in snow removal from roofs.

Hiring Someone to Clear the Snow off Your Roof

When hiring a professional the clear the snow off your roof, there are a few ways to vet their credibility:

  • Check that they’re certified and have insurance.
  • Their insurance policy should cover any accidental damage to your roof, as well as injuries caused to you or your family, the contractor and its employees.
  • Use resources like the Better Business Bureau and Angie’s List to look for any red flags, like comments about unfinished or poor work from old clients.
  • It can be helpful to use a recommendation from a trusted friend or neighbor. You can also post on Nextdoor to get suggestions for local contractors.
  • Snow removal will probably run between $250 and $500, so look for a competitive quote around this range.

Don’t forget about the dangers of snow and ice on your driveway or sidewalk in front of your house, too.

Let GSC take some of the pressure off with our professional snow removal services.

We can clear your driveway or business’ parking lot and sidewalks, and take care of ice buildup and snow drifts. And at the end of the day, we’ll haul it all away, too.

Learn more about GSC’s Professional Snow Removal division >