Commercial roof damage caused by ice and snow.

The cold temperatures and icy weather take their toll on all of us during the winter months. But it’s your commercial building’s roofing system that really takes a beating. It’s got to stand up to harsh conditions season after season. And eventually, that weather can lead to a number of roof problems.

Here are 5 ways that your building’s commercial roofing system can be damaged by winter weather.

1 – Ice Dams

A definite threat in colder climates, ice dams can occur on residential roofs as well as commercial roofs.

Ice dams happen when melting snow has formed around a blocked downspout or gutter. Ice dams can also cause ice to refreeze on the side of a building where melting snow has created a buildup and overflowed, causing dangerously large icicles. Ice dams can eventually cause damage to the roofing membrane and lead to leaks inside your building, and icicles can not only fall and injure workers or customers, but also pull down gutters.

Preventative maintenance for ice dams helps to make sure your roof’s drainage systems are clear and free of clogs. Many proactive building owners have professional roof inspections for their commercial flat roof in the fall to make sure all drains are free of leaves and other debris (and ready for winter). If your building has gutters and scuppers, the inspector will also check those to make sure that there are no blockages.

You can also check your roof’s insulation to make sure there are no warm spots on the roof surface that are causing snow to melt. A warm spot will melt snow and ice, only for it to freeze again when it reaches a colder spot on the roof or a gutter.

2 – Wind Damage

Severe winter storms can often be accompanied by high winds. You can’t fight a storm, but there’s an important step you can take to give your commercial building’s roof the best chance. Once again, fall is a great time to have a roof inspection and have any issues addressed.

Your roofing services inspector will check for any loose material, ponding water, and any flashings or fasteners that might be loose or worn out. (Anything loose or unsecured will be blown away, and any flashings or fastenings lost increase your possibility of leaks.) The inspector will also check the areas around your roof’s protrusions, like HVAC systems or skylights to make sure that there are no roofing issues such as leakage. Remember, a small leak will only get worse in the cold weather!

3 – Snow Drifts

Those high winds we just discussed can also carry snow and pile it up in very inconvenient spots, creating heavy snow drifts. The flat roof of a commercial property is an ideal place for snow drifts to form. Snow buildup can be dangerous and cause the roof to sag and even collapse, which can lead to injuries of customers and employees, not to mention the closure of the business.

It’s hard to fight snow drifts. The best thing you can do for your commercial roof is have snow removed as quickly as possible when you know there’s been a large amount of precipitation. Contact a professional snow removal company with experience in snow removal from commercial roofs.

4 – Moisture and Condensation

Condensation can occur inside your building when warm interior air rises and meets the colder underside of the roof. Moisture and warmth lead to the development of mold and mildew, which can be dangerous for your employees and customers. If ignored, condensation will eventually cause water damage inside your building from moisture collecting in the seams on the underside of the roof. You can alleviate condensation by making sure your building is properly and thoroughly ventilated to keep air circulating and prevent damp areas.

You can prevent moisture entering your building from the outside by ensuring that your roof’s drainage passages are clear and your roofing material is in good shape. Once again, these tasks are important aspects of regular commercial roof maintenance.

5 – Roofing Material Degradation

Even though science and innovation have taken us a long way, there is still no such thing as a permanent roof. Even the longest-lasting metal roofs will eventually need to be replaced with a new roof. Materials degrade over time, and in areas with harsh winters, the yearly freezing and thawing can be brutal.

Roofing material degradation is important to consider because roofing material failure can not only lead to the previously mentioned winter issues, but it can also cause problems to crop up at any time of the year. That’s why yearly inspections of your roof are so crucial. Preventative maintenance inspections allow you to stay up-to-date on the condition of your roof, and allow you to plan ahead and budget. In fact, keeping your roof well-maintained can help you to dodge costly roof repairs in the future. However, if roof repairs are unavoidable, make sure you have them completed as soon as possible. Roof problems only get larger and worse as time passes.

Dealing With Winter Commercial Roof Damage

The best method to deal with commercial roof damage during the winter season is to get ahead of it. Establishing a roof maintenance schedule, having regular inspections, and scheduling preventative maintenance are the best ways to extend the lifespan of your roof and prevent costly roof replacement.

Having a commercial roofing contractor you trust is the best way to help with the burden of taking care of a commercial roof. TEMA Roofing Services is the best partner you can find to make sure your commercial roof is always protecting your investments.

With TEMA’s Roof Asset Management Program, you’ll have full access to reports and images with complete documentation of your roof’s condition so you’re never caught off guard and can always be ready for maintenance. Contact TEMA today!