When most people hear the term monsoon, they associate it with weather events that usually take place on foreign soil, but the U.S. has a monsoon season as well. One of the hallmark characteristics of a monsoon is intense periods of rainfall in which rain can collect on a roof and cause water or structural damage. While building owners cannot control the weather when monsoon season is here, there are things they can do to get ahead of the storm.
What Is a North American Monsoon?
North American Monsoon (NAM) is essentially a change in the wind pattern, opening the door for continuous moisture to come in from the Gulf of California to typically more dry parts of the southwest U.S. The most common set up for a monsoon is when a high pressure system and a low pressure system bump up fairly close to one another and remain temporarily stationary over a region.
When Is Monsoon Season and Who Does It Affect?
New Mexico and other areas across the southwest are affected by the North American Monsoon System (NAMS) every summer. While a typical season is from June 15th through September 30th, the season generally goes into full swing around July and August. During these time periods, states affected by a monsoon typically experience above average precipitation rates that are a direct result of the change in wind direction.
During a monsoon season, not all affected areas will receive copious amounts of rain daily, however, these areas should expect to get hit with rain off and on over the course of the season, with some rain showers becoming intense with large amounts of rainfall.
Roofing Problems A Monsoon Can Cause or Exacerbate
While it is a good idea to have a reputable roofing company do routine inspections and maintenance annually, it’s especially important during monsoon season. Intense rainstorms and rainfall can cause or exacerbate roofing problems, including the following:
- Cracks. Because roofing is exterior and designed to protect a structure, it also takes the brunt of the weather year-round. Whether it be from intense sunshine, the wearing away of a roofing surface, or even strong monsoon rains, cracks may develop in a roof and can lead to interior water damage in a structure.
- Roof drainage system problems. Flat roofs can collect debris such as leaves, branches, or other foreign objects. In a monsoon, this same debris can cause blocked gutters or downspouts. This build up keeps water in the gutters from flowing like it should, which means overflow and water near the exterior of the building flows or backs up where it should not be.
- Shingle damage. If there are roofing shingles that are damaged or weak, heavy rains can compromise them quickly, potentially resulting in a crack or hole that could allow expensive water damage and possible compromise the integrity of the structure.
How to Be Proactive in Preparing Roofing for Monsoon Season
While the North American Monsoon season is simply a fact of life from June through September for those living in the southwest part of the nation, there are several proactive measures that can be taken in effectively preparing roofing for a monsoon, including:
- Trim nearby trees. If a building has trees that lean or overhang close to a roof or gutter system, it is recommended that they be trimmed back to prevent rain-soaked limbs from crashing through the roof or clogging up gutters.
- Clean away debris. It can seem like a nuisance to take care of this chore several times a year, but the benefits far outweigh the inconvenience. By cleaning debris away from the roof prior to monsoon season, it ensures that gutters and downspouts do not get clogged and can keep water from collecting on the roof. If a monsoon dumps an immense amount of water on a roof without proper drainage, the weight of the water could cause significant damage to the structure.
- Fix broken gutters. If a professional roofing company spots a broken or damaged gutter, it is critical to have this fixed as soon as possible. The weight of heavy rainfall may be enough to completely damage the gutter and render it ineffective in the middle of a monsoon, which can create a domino effect for more problems.
- Check for cracks and open seams. It is critical to check for cracks and open seams well before monsoon season begins. Either of these issues can allow moisture to penetrate the roof and negatively impact the structure. This is not to say that a roof cannot be repaired during monsoon season, but it can prove to be challenging since the weather is often unpredictable. It can be a good idea to have a roofing company survey a structure’s roof a month or two before the season arrives.
- Check for roof coating health. While a roofing company is checking for cracks and open seams, also ask them to ensure roof coatings are still strong and intact. If roof coatings are wearing away or are found to have a weak spot, such situations will need to be will need to be repaired before the first monsoon arrives.
Monsoon season is here, and it is time to get ahead of the storm. By recognizing the roofing problems most commonly associated with monsoons and learning how to be proactive, you can be better positioned to relax when the clouds grow dark and the heavy rain begins to fall.