Lawyers at The Perecman Firm join Gov. Andrew Cuomo in warning residents of New York to beware of roof collapses as numerous snowstorms combined with rain and overnight melting make roofs even more vulnerable to collapse.
ABC News reported more than 30 recent roof collapses. (11.21.14). In Blasdell, New York, BJ’s Wholesale was evacuated before the heavy snow caused the roof to collapse, reported The Buffalo News (11.20.14). Flat roofs are especially prone to excessive snow and ice accumulation because of their pitch, lack of natural grading and lack of runoff.
Cuomo warned people to look for signs of their roofs weakening under the heavy weight of the snow. When roofs become weakened, they begin showing warning signs. If any of the warning signs of an imminent structural collapse are seen, building occupants should evacuate the structure immediately.
Common signs of over-stressing include
Severe roof leaks
Cracked or split wood members
Sprinkler heads pushing down ceiling tiles
Doors that pop open
Bends or ripples in supports
Doors or windows that are difficult to open
Bowed pipes or conduit attached at ceiling
Creaking, cracking, groaning or popping sounds
There are a number of factors that can increase the likelihood of snow-induced structural failures and problems, including improper maintenance, inadequate design, construction errors, and improper snow removal. Other contributing factors to blame for many snow-induced roof failures may include roof contour, roof obstructions, extra roof insulation, lack of emergency procedures, and poor workmanship or job-site control.
Unoccupied buildings are often more susceptible to roof failures due to snow loads. Vacant buildings have no one to regularly check on them to see if a problem is developing.
Removing snow from a rooftop will lessen the likelihood of structural collapse. Removing snow from a roof is also a challenge. Homeowners can attempt to clear it themselves with a snow rake, working from the ground to avoid the risk of slipping and falling.
At this time of year, the best bet for homeowners may be to call a professional to help with the snow and ice removal. The professional should be experienced and insured in case they cause damage to the home. They should also carry worker’s compensation insurance for their employees.
In addition to worrying about roof collapses, state officials are concerned with home heating issues and flooding when the snow begins to melt.
People who are concerned about a roof or structural collapse should call their local building or fire department. If there is a more immediate danger, call 911 and evacuate the building.
Individuals who have been injured in a winter slip and fall accident or roof collapse, should learn their rights for seeking compensation.
The ABC News story cited is “With Snow Still Piled High, Buffalo Faces Flooding.”
The Buffalo News story is “Day 3: Death toll rises to 12; roofs collapse as snow piles up.”