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Major snow events can impact the integrity of a structure, making it imperative for commercial property owners to understand their building’s characteristics and structural system prior to the start of the snow season. Having familiarity with the building structure can help owners determine if any changes occurred during a major snow event and if repairs are necessary. This article discusses key building information owners should be aware of, what to look for during a pre-season inspection and warning signs of a building in duress.
Key Building Information
A commercial property owner’s knowledge of their building could be the difference between getting through a major snow event safely or experiencing structural failure. Property owners should know the following regarding the current condition of the structure:
- Applicable building codes
- Design snow load
- Structural framing system
- Thermal properties
- Renovation history
A proper commercial building inspection can reveal the actual condition of a property and give owners the opportunity to fix any problems before the snow season begins. To mitigate damage and identify any potential issues, commercial property owners should:
- Perform a detailed inspection. Check for cracks, split seams, buckling, loose parts, staining, mold and rot while inspecting:
- Surface membranes
- Roof vents
- Field tears
- Drainage pipes
- Clean debris. Ensure the roof is clear of debris, including fallen branches, leaves and garbage. Debris can prevent water from draining, allowing snow to buildup and cause water damage or add weight to the structure.
- Look for pooling water. Keep an eye out for areas where water pools, as this could be an indication of a clogged drain or slow-draining line.
- Check the flashing. Inspect the flashing—the thin material used to direct water away from certain areas on the roof—before winter for cracks or crevices that would allow water to enter.
- Inspect the downspouts. Ensure downspouts are properly attached to the gutters, clear of debris and that their termination bars are sealed.
While these can all be inspected regularly by the owner or an employee, utilizing a certified roof inspector who knows what to look for can help ensure the roof is in good condition before any major snow events occur.
Warning Signs of Duress
Roof decks or framing that is under duress from snow loads typically display warning signs. Commercial property owners should watch for the following signs in wood, metal and steel constructed buildings:
- Ceiling tiles or boards that are sagging or falling out of the ceiling grid
- Sprinkler lines and sprinkler heads that are sagging or deflecting below suspended ceilings
- Roof members, such as metal decking or plywood sheathing, that are sagging
- Doors or windows that no longer open or close
- Wood members that are cracked or split
- Walls or masonry that are cracked
- Truss bottom chords or web members that are bowing
- Popping, cracking and creaking noises
If any of these warning signs are observed, the building should be promptly evacuated, and a detailed structural inspection should be conducted by a qualified professional.
Major snow events can cause a lot of damage to a commercial structure, especially if it hasn’t been properly inspected and maintained. Therefore, commercial property owners should ensure that their building is prepared for winter weather by inspecting the structure and making any necessary repairs. For more information, contact us today.
By Jennifer Outcelt, Creative Content Architect
Here I am again, sharing a head banging episode of my favorite podcast, Ologies! Why do I keep pushing these on you? Well, it’s simple; Ologies is amazing, and I want only amazing things for you.
Speaking of amazing things, your brain is by far the most complicated, resilient, and beautiful organ in your body. It is also the most meta organ out there. It literally uses itself to learn more about itself. So hipster, am I right? Anyhoo.
Sometimes these crazy cool brains get conked and can cause concussions, creating confusion and discomfort (and possibly excessive use of alteration). This episode is ALL about concussions and the whats, whys, and hows of everything in between injury and full recovery. The main take away; take care of that noggin! Also, go to the doctor for head trauma! Learn more about this common injury and how to repair that beautiful gray noodle by listening to the Neuropathology episode on the Ologies podcast at the link below.
By Jennifer Outcelt, Creative Content Architect
It seems obvious that any Alaskan resident would be highly familiar with the fluffy, cold, and magical substance known as “snow”. It surrounds us for approximately 42 months out of the year (or at least that’s how it feels) and is literally everywhere; on our cars, in our yards, on our hiking trails, and sometimes in our homes if we have young kids. But the last time you looked up at the cloudy sky to watch the tiny flakes fall down, did you wonder, “how the heck does snow even happen?”
Sure, you might have learned in 4th grade about the water cycle and maybe about snow more specifically. But could you win Jeopardy! with a question about snow? I know there is “snow” way I could. And neither could my mom when I asked her about snow formation the other day while driving. We were both stumped and a bit ashamed of our knowledge gap. I didn’t want to google it because I was pretty sure it would knock a few experience points off my Alaskan resident card. However, vanity be dammed, I googled it anyway. I had to know the what, when, where, how, why of snow.
I found a very informative, yet concise, website explaining how snow becomes snow and it definitely blew my mind. The world is amazing, and I have a new appreciation for my Alaskan winter landscape. Enjoy this read and I hope the magic of snow blows your mind the next time you’re snow blowing your driveway.