Are Snow and Ice Bad For a Commercial Flat Roof?

by | Mar 5, 2024 | Flat Roof Management

Snow and ice, in and of themselves, are not a bad thing for a commercial flat roof. Flat roofs are designed to withstand both. Snow and ice can, however, indirectly pose a problem when a roof reaches its load-bearing capacity, or when the snow and ice begins to melt and the roof hasn’t been properly maintained.

Load-Bearing Capacity

Flat roofs, like sloped ones, are designed to support the weight of their intended use and regional snow and ice. There is therefore rarely a need to have to remove either.

What about people who try to be proactive and shovel snow off a flat roof? Are they wrong?

Flat Roofer Clearing Snow in Winter |

The only time you need to shovel snow off a flat roof is when the amount of snow is nearing the weight-bearing capacity of the roof. There are building codes in place to ensure commercial flat roofs are designed and built to ensure this doesn’t happen so there should rarely be a need to shovel snow from the roof.

That said, sometimes a roof structure is underbuilt. At Flat Roof Solutions, we have certainly heard of folks trying to remove snow after a huge downfall because they were concerned for their building. Typically though, we do not recommend shoveling snow from a flat roof because it is very easy to cut the roof with a shovel. You end up doing more harm than good.

What do we recommend? If you feel compelled to remove snow, a power broom is a much better tool for that purpose.

Melting Snow and Ice

A properly maintained commercial flat roof is inspected every year to ensure potential risks are identified and addressed early, before they grow to become an costly or health and safety threatening issue for the building owner and its occupants.

Commercial Flat Roof Inspectors on Roof |
Melting snow and ice can expose flat roof deficiencies that rain ordinarily does not. That’s because snow and ice can impede water flow, causing it to “sit” and potentially leak. The moisture has a way of finding its way into very small holes on the roof surface, holes that rainfall would not ordinarily penetrate.

Snow and Ice Repairs

So what can you do if you do get a leak from melting ice and snow? Can you repair a leak when the flat roof is covered in snow?

Yes you can repair a snow-covered flat roof, but it will require careful planning and execution. Repair companies will have to work around weather constraints and ensure the ongoing health and safety of workers and occupants. It can get costly.


Are snow and ice bad for a commercial flat roof? Not usually, but if a roof is inadequately maintained or the snow accummulation exceeds the load bearing capacity of the roof, build-up and runoff can become a problem. Annual roof inspections and power brooms are ways you can avoid having difficulty and ensure the ongoing health and value of your property.

Free Flat Roof Learning Materials

Whether you’re a beginner, need advanced information about flat roofing topics, or a refresher, this is where you can learn everything you need to know about commercial and industrial flat roofing.

Contact us for more information or pricing.




Jared Van Vranken is Vice President and lead estimator at Flat Roof Solutions in Malvern, PA. Jared has directed the installation, repair, recovery, and replacement of commercial flat roofs for more than a decade at Flat Roof Solutions. He guides clients in selecting the best roofing materials for their needs and budget.

You Might Also Like


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This