Avoid These 4 Winter Weather Roofing Mistakes


By Gary Thill, IRE Business Update Editor

As unusually vicious winter weather grips much of the nation, including areas not used to snow and ice, roofers are on the front lines of helping homes and businesses recover from the onslaught. 

In the short term, the unusual weather will lead to a flurry of new business that’s sure to continue well into spring. But those unaccustomed to dealing with snow and ice issues would do well to take precautions from safety to liability, warn experts. 

“Especially in Texas, you’re going to see a lot of roofs that are damaged when this is over, because those roofs are not designed for this,” said John Kenney, CEO of Cotney Consulting, who spent decades roofing in the snowy Northeast. “It’s almost like after a hurricane but worse.”

It’s worse Kenney said because many roofers aren’t accustomed to dealing with the particular issues that snow and ice bring. Here are four mistakes Kenney said roofers need to avoid around snow and ice remediation:

  1. Slips and falls. Roofs are always precarious places. But snow and ice make them downright deadly. Ice often hides under snow whether on sloped or flat roofs so workers need to take special safety precautions. “Your awareness needs to be at a higher level than normal,” Kenney said. “Even if you’re the safest roofer in the world, you have got to take extra precautions.” For example, he said, emergency workers should always go in pairs and never by themselves.

  2. Roof collapse. Homes in areas where snow and ice don’t generally happen aren’t designed with the same weight bearing standards as those that do. Thus, many roofs are bound to collapse amid ongoing snow and ice events. So don’t go on roofs that are sagging or look unsafe. “If you start to see sagging in the deck, don’t put your people up there, it’s probably going to collapse,” Kenney said.

  3. Roof damage from snow removal. Roofs can easily be damaged during snow removal without proper precautions. Don’t use heavy, sharp, steel shovels to remove snow and ice. Instead use light-weight plastic shovels, which are less likely to gouge roofing. For larger roofs, snowblowers work well, but be sure to use skids to prevent digging into roofing. “Remember, you’re actually working under something that can be damaged fairly easily,” Kenney said.

  4. Not getting paid. Customers make a lot of assumptions about who will be paying for repairs from weather damage, namely insurance companies. But that puts roofers at risk for not getting paid. Kenney said it’s a good idea to have payment contract set up in advance. “Don’t make assumptions that there’s going to be payment by another party,” Kenney said. 

Even once the more immediate snow and ice issues resolve themselves, Kenney said roofers will likely continue gaining new business from the round of winter storms. That’s because even for roofs that survived the winter attack, the return of warmer spring weather will reveal expansion breaks caused by the unusual cold.

“Everyone is very optimistic that it’s going to be a very busy spring with all that’s been going on,” Kenney said.