This article was originally published in February 2015 and has been updated.

Public Safety Advisory: Heavy Snow Loads on Roofs Poses Danger

By John Rey, Senior Vice President, Engineering Group, Able Services

Recent prolonged cold and frequent snowstorms have contributed to a large amount of snow on our roofs. With more storms in the forecast, the load conditions will be severe and potentially very dangerous.

Efforts should be made to safely remove snow on the roofs of both residential and commercial buildings to minimize the likelihood of structural damage.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Be aware of the weight of snow on your roof. One cubic foot equals 7 pounds and can easily triple with melting or rain
  • Beware of freeze thaw cycles creating icicles and frost heaves
  • Maintain clear roof drains, gutters, downspouts, and catch basins
  • Do not use heat guns, torches or any open flame to thaw equipment or remove ice or snow
  • Wear protective headgear (falling icicles)
  • Maintain a safe clearance from electrical sources with metal tools
  • Know where skylights or any other roof openings are

Please see the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency website for more detailed information:

If there is imminent danger, evacuate the building and call 911.

For more information regarding proper maintenance of commercial buildings during harsh winter weather, please contact Able Services’s New York, Boston, Chicago or Washington DC offices.

New York, NY
708 Third Avenue
Suite 1020
New York, NY 10017
Phone: 646-998-7111

Boston, MA
800 Boylston Street
Sub Basement
Boston, MA 02199
Phone: 617-351-7060­­

Chicago, IL
150 North Wacker Drive
Suite 1800
Chicago, Illinois 60606
Phone: 866-650-9839 (Toll Free)
Phone: 312-565-6719 (Main)

Washington, D.C.
1001 North 19th Street
Suite 1200
Arlington, VA 22209
Phone: 571-384-7949