Businesses, residents deal with large amounts of snow on roofs

Published 7:03 am Saturday, March 2, 2019

Albert Lea businesses have been taking precautionary measures to protect their buildings after the city nearly broke its February snowfall record.

Innovance CEO Mike Larson said there were a couple cracked beams at Lou-Rich. Ten employees removed  snow from the roof for about six hours Monday morning and afternoon. He said the company has placed additional posts on beams to prevent a roof collapse in anticipation of more snow.

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He said similar situations have unfolded four or five times in the last 15 years. He noted that during the process, employees blew snow from low-roof areas where snow drifts land because of  their placement between higher roof areas.

“We’ve had them in the past, and we have a program where we’ve reinforced our beams,” Larson said. “We’re 100 percent employee-owned company, so this building is very important to them.”

Home Depot in Albert Lea Assistant Manager Jenna Holets noted a West Virginia-based company removed snow from the store roof for eight hours a day Tuesday to Thursday after an assessment last week.

Snow was shoveled Tuesday, and a crane was later used as the snow was shoveled onto a tarp, put into the parking lot and pushed out of the lot.

“We’re a flat roof, so we just wanted to take precautions,” she said. “It gets heavy up there, and it gets wet, and then it gets hard. We just wanted to take precautions for our associates, and just make sure the roof didn’t collapse. That’s a heck of a lot of snow up there.”

Holets said the roof had sustained no damage at the time of assessment.

She said the store’s No. 1 priority is ensuring a safe working environment.

Albert Lea Building Official and Planning and Zoning Administrator Wayne Sorensen said the only safe way for residents to remove high levels of snow on roofs is from the ground with a roof rake, with any on-roof work being done by professionals.

He said ice dams — ice growth on the edge of roofs that prevent water from draining — seem to be worst on roofs facing south because of the angle of the sun. He noted homes with insufficient attic insulation tend to have more problems with ice dams.

Sorensen noted to alleviate ice dams on roofs, keep the bottom few feet of the roof clear of snow. In cases of large ice dams, introducing hot water and steam to the area could help.

“You should not try to use axes or hatchets or hammers, because you’ll probably for sure damage the roof then,” he said.

About Sam Wilmes

Sam Wilmes covers crime, courts and government for the Albert Lea Tribune.

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