Roof Collapses

Why Do Roof Collapses Occur?



A partial or complete roof collapse can occur for several reasons. Most of the causes are preventable if measures are taken beforehand to address roof design, snow removal and ensure that roof drains and gutters are clear and flowing freely. A few of the reasons that roof failures occur are:.


1. Incorrect roof live load design.


2. Problems with the installation of the roof steel.


3. Roof drains and/or downspouts become blocked or frozen and melting snow or rain can not

adequately drain from the roof.


4. Over time, additional dead load (weight) is added to the roof, which will reduce the available

live load or roof design.


5. Imbalance of snow load on roof.


Warning Signs of Potential Roof Collapse



Prior to a roof collapse, buildings generally exhibit signs that the roof is in distress and action should be taken to mitigate a roof collapse. The following are some of the symptoms that have been reported prior to roof failure:


  • sagging roof steel - visually deformed

  • cracked or split wood members

  • sprinkler heads pushed down below ceiling tiles

  • doors that pop open

  • doors or windows that are difficult to open

  • bowed utility pipes or conduit attached at ceiling

  • creaking, cracking or popping sounds


How Much Does Snow Weigh?  


According to Winter Snow Loads. Curt Gooch, Sr. Cornell University. 2002:




1 FOOT of WET SNOW = 21 LBS / FT


3 FEET of "IN-BETWEEN-SNOW" will often exceed the design load for many flat roofs in our area.



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