A commercial building’s roof is one of the primary instruments of protection against the elements in any season, which is why it is critical to winterize your roof before the colder months arrive. Just as most building owners have their air conditioning and heating units checked for stability and efficiency before turning them on after several months without use, it is important to do the same for a building’s roof. There are certain preventative measures a professional roofing company can put in place to ensure the roof is ready for the arrival of snow and ice that the winter months can bring.
Common Roofing Problems Commercial Buildings with No Winterization May Experience
The best time to begin giving thought to winterizing your commercial building’s roof can be the fall season. This generally gives building owners time to have necessary repairs made well before winter precipitation usually arrives.
Some of the common problems commercial buildings experience when snow or ice accumulates on a roof that has not been properly winterized are:
- Accumulation of debris that can cause melted water to pool and add weight to the roof
- Clogged drains which keep melted water from draining properly
- Damaged membranes that could leave the roof exposed to moisture
- Ponding water which can add unexpected weight to the roof of a building
- Leaks that affect the interior of the building and could cause electrical problems and stimulate mold growth
Moisture retention can be one of the worst and most expensive consequences of not winterizing your roof. Once a leak is established, water could be absorbed into the roof, insulation, or interior walls of a building. If the moisture thaws during the day and then freezes again at night, the expansion can cause damaging cracks. If the moisture makes its way into the interior of a building it can potentially open the door to mold growth.
None of these scenarios lead to good things, and in many cases they can end up costing a building owner thousands of dollars in damage that may have been preventable if they had taken the time to winterize the roof.
5 Steps to Winterize Your Roof
The winter months can mean frozen or slushy precipitation. As it melts, this water can find its way into cracks and crevices of a roof and cause extensive and costly damage. The best defense against winter weather elements is to have the roof in top shape before bad weather blows in. Five steps a professional roofing company can take to help a commercial business owner winterize the roof are:
- Remove debris. Over time it is not unusual for even commercial building roofs to experience debris in the form of leaves, tree limbs, bird nests, etc. Once water accumulates on the roof it could move the debris into a position in where it then blocks the liquid from draining properly, which could open the door to degradation of protective roof material.
- Clean drainage systems and gutters. A roof’s drainage system is designed to keep melted precipitation or rainwater from collecting on the roof. Any roof debris that could possibly obstruct a building’s drainage or gutter system must be proactively removed, but for added efficiency, the drainage and/or gutter system should also be thoroughly cleaned to remove anything that has already collected in them.
- Do an inspection. Once debris has been cleared and drainage and gutter systems are checked out, the next step is to have a reputable roofing company do a thorough inspection of the existing roofing system. This allows them to check the roof for cracks, degraded materials, worn down sealant, leaks, and moisture buildup and repair them before they can further progress.
- Fix moisture retention issues. If sections of the roof are found to be retaining moisture, the issue will need to be addressed immediately. The growth of moisture in areas where it is not supposed to be can cause massive damage to a building’s roof and its interior. The company will need to repair the affected area before it can apply another layer of sealant or protection as trapping the existing moisture inside can lead to extensive damage.
- Seal up any spaces that are not watertight. If an inspection by a roofing expert identifies problem areas in which there are exposed cracks or openings, the application of a protective sealant may be necessary. Taking the time to complete this step can be an added layer of protection against leaks, interior insulation, and drywall.
To winterize your roof in the fall is to better protect it against the harsh winter elements, however it is still critical to keep an eye on the roofing system throughout the season, particularly after heavy snowfalls or ice storms. For example, if a record amount of snow were to fall and be an added weight your roof is not designed to handle, it may be a good idea to contact a roofing company about helping you clear some of the snow away as soon as it is safe to do so.
A Roof for All Seasons
In the south, the people have a saying that April showers bring May flowers. The reason those flowers bloom is because of the ground soaking rains that the spring season first brings. The sentiment is a perfect illustration of how every season can be different, with its own unique weather challenges. It is for this reason that regular roof inspections and maintenance are necessary throughout the year.
While many roofing systems will not require heavy repairs in between seasons, there are small repairs a professional roofing company can make to help protect against the weather elements of the next season.
It is recommended that commercial buildings choose a high quality and well-respected roofing company to manage their roof on an ongoing basis. This allows the company to compare the health of the roof between visits and keep track of areas they are keeping a close eye on for damage prevention.
Winterize your roof now before the first cold winds of the season make their way to you and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with knowing you are ready for winter.