Prevent these 6 common winter roofing problems with RRG Roofing. Harsh winter weather can take a toll on any roofing system, and commercial roofs are not an exception. During the winter, your commercial roof is exposed to extreme weather conditions such as snow, freezing cold temperatures, wind, and sleet.
Extreme temperature changes can weaken your roof’s structure and make it more susceptible to damage from these elements. For this reason, proper preparation of your commercial roof before the winter season is crucial to prevent damage and costly repairs.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the reasons behind winter roofing damage and how you can prepare your commercial roof to withstand winter weather with aplomb and save some significant money on your utility bills.
Commercial Winter Roof Damage: 6 Common Causes
1. Snow Accumulation
Flat commercial roofs are prone to accumulating snow during the winter months, unlike sloped residential roofs which allow snow to easily slide off. If proper winter maintenance, such as removing snow from the roof quickly, is not performed regularly, snow and ice can collect on the roof and cause numerous issues.
Firstly, this snow accumulation can put a significant amount of weight on the roof, potentially causing damage to the structure. Heavy snowfall can weigh over 20 pounds/square foot. Exceeding the weight limit of a commercial building can put immense stress on its structural integrity. And if the snow drifts, it may put excessive pressure on specific areas of the roof.
2. Ice Damming
Ice dams are a common occurrence at the junctions between cold and warm areas of commercial roofs. They form as a result of heat from the building melting snow on top of the roof, which then pools and refreezes. The excess weight of the ice can lead to structural damage, such as cracks and leaks. Additionally, the ice dams can also result in icicles forming at the roof’s edge, adding additional weight.
3. Blocked Gutters
During the autumn season, gutters are prone to collecting fallen leaves, pine needles, and other debris. Now when the rain falls, it converts the leaf matter into a dense, wet clump. In absence of proper cleaning, this soggy clump of leaves can freeze and accumulate ice. This can then overflow onto the roof causing structural damage and potential leaks. To prevent this, it is important to clear out your roofing gutters before the winter months set in.
4. Flashing Leaks
Flashing is essentially the metal strip that is installed at the corners and edges of a roof to prevent water infiltration. These metal strips are also installed around chimneys and at the intersection points of horizontal and vertical surfaces of the roof. These metal strips, over a period of time, particularly if the region is exposed to strong winds, may start to detach from the roof. This detachment can cause roof leaks during winter.
5. Winter Wind Damage
Although your commercial roof may appear to be in good condition at the start of winter, one severe storm is enough to cause extensive damage. High winds during the winter are known to lift and break the sealant that holds the roofing material of your commercial roof.
If the sealant is not intact, water can seep in. If left unchecked, it can cause immediate damage or long-term leaks. Additionally, strong winds can cause tree branches to fall onto the roof, which can result in impact damage or blockages in the drainage system, leading to flooding. To prevent such problems, make sure to regularly inspect your roofing system for any signs of wind damage and address any issues promptly.
6. Excessive Heating
This excess heat emanating from the building can result in significant temperature fluctuations across different areas of the roof. This can increase the risk of condensation, mold growth, and leaks dramatically.
Additionally, when snow accumulates on the roof, it can cause a significant drop in the building’s interior temperature. As a result, people usually turn up the heat to compensate for the cold.
However, this can exacerbate the inconsistent heating within the commercial building – with a few areas being too cold and others being overly warm. The unevenness can be further aggravated when some departments choose to keep the heat low to conserve energy, while others have it turned up.
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