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Be aware of snow buildup on rooftops

Too much snow can cause roof collapse and the conditions are ripe for it this winter

The Office of the Fire Commissioner is reminding Manitobans to keep an eye on their roofs this winter.

Heavy snowfalls this winter mean there’s a “greatly increased” risk of roof collapse this winter, the provincial agency said in a recent news release.

There have been several recent incidents of buildings suffering either partial or a total roof collapse due to excessive snow load. The recent warm weather has resulted in much of the snow load becoming heavier, which has further increased the risk. Homes, farm buildings and commercial properties can all be at risk.

Safely checking the depth of snow on a rooftop may require professional assistance. Homeowners may be able to remove some of the weight from the ground with tools such as a roof rake. Always check the surrounding area before pulling snow off the roof since it will be heavy and can damage items on the ground.

There may not be a way to know with any certainty how much weight is too much for each roof, but if some snow can be removed safely, it will reduce the possibility of a collapse.

Commercial building owners and property managers are encouraged to consult with professionals to assess the level of risk and determine the most appropriate course of action. Older buildings with flat or low-slope roofs which were constructed prior to the development of modern building codes are often the most vulnerable structures.

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