Roof Safety During Winter Weather

Page updated on Jan 24, 2016 at 9:47 AM

Please be aware of the potential hazards that snow accumulation may cause on flat roofs of buildings and houses.  The following are important safety measures you need to take to keep you and the occupants of your building safe.

Single Family Houses, Duplexes and Townhouses

Some homes in the City of Alexandria have sloped roofs and therefore the risk posed by snow accumulations is less than a flat roof. However, if you have a flat roof on your house or a portion of your house, monitor the ceiling below.  Look for signs of roof distress:

  • Sagging ceiling beneath the flat roof.
  • New cracks on your ceiling drywall or plaster.
  • Popping, cracking or creaking sounds.
  • Doors and/or windows that can no longer be opened or closed.

Please evacuate your house or the portion of the house with a flat roof if you notice any of the warning signs listed above.

Do NOT climb onto your roof to shovel snow.

Commercial Buildings

The City of Alexandria recommends you monitor the snow on the roof of your building, especially in areas of drifting snow. Most commercial buildings are designed to accommodate a roof snow load associated with 24 inches of dense, compacted, and/or wet snow.

Please pay attention to the warning signs of roof distress:

  • Sagging roof members including steel bar joists, metal decking, wood rafters, wood trusses and plywood sheathing.
  • Popping, cracking and creaking sounds.
  • Sagging ceiling tiles and/or sagging sprinkler lines and sprinkler heads.
  • Doors and/or windows that can no longer be opened or closed.

If you notice one or more of the warning signs, you need to evacuate the building immediately.

If your roof has collapsed, please call 911.

Not all roofs are designed and constructed the same. In no case does the City of Alexandria recommend you climb to your roof and begin clearing snow unless you are directed by a professional.

Heating and Dryer Vents

Heating and dryer vents should also be cleared of snow to prevent possible carbon monoxide poisoning. Do not run generators in the home, garage, other enclosed spaces, or near exterior wall openings (including soffit roof vents) as carbon monoxide can rise to dangerous, if not fatal levels.

Some of the above information provided by Zurich Services Corporation.