Winterizing Your Commercial Roof

The midwest United States has weather extremes that create tremendous stress on buildings, so you can’t ignore the need to winterize your commercial buildings.

In fact, if you own a commercial building, you should have a solid plan to protect your property from unnecessary damage! Interested in learning more? Keep reading for tips on how to winterize your commercial roof.

Clean Your Commercial Roofing

If you don’t have someone cleaning your roof as part of a regular maintenance plan, consider hiring professionals. Because, if you don’t know what’s happening with your roof, you can miss smaller issues that turn into hefty repair bills. 

Preventative maintenance keeps drainage, mold, moss, and other problems from getting out of control. Other cleaning recommendations that your commercial roofing contractor may suggest include the following:

  • Trimming trees to allow easy access to the roof
  • Removing bird nests (if not protected by law)
  • Cleaning leaves, nuts or fruit that drop from trees
  • Addressing slow drains or ponding areas that attract animals to the roof

Regular cleaning by a professional also allows you to locate potential tree damage. Branches that fall onto a commercial flat roof, especially during storms, can tear the roofing membrane. And, tree branches hanging over your commercial roof can dump additional snow onto the roofing material, adding to snow load and the potential for issues (like leaking, or in severe cases, collapse). 

Don’t wait to trim branches or remove unnecessary trees!

Clean the Gutters and Downspouts

It’s important that you’re not just cleaning the debris from your roof, but that you’re also ensuring that gutters and downspouts are clear. In the event of a heavy snowfall, melted snow needs to easily runoff the building’s roof to prevent water infiltration. 

While cleaning gutters and downspouts can sometimes be done on your own, trusting professional roofers for this service can save you both time and money. 

Check for Damage From Animals

Professional roofing companies have experience identifying signs of an animal infestation while the signs may not be clear to you or your employees. 

When pests get desperate for shelter in the winter, they can do damage to a commercial roof. It’s critical for your roof that you clean any animal debris to keep them from feeling welcome. Food scraps, nests or droppings left unattended become a breeding ground for damage.

Check the Caulking and Sealants

Caulking can last a long time, but it doesn’t last forever. Inspect for any missing pieces, crumbling, or wrinkling—all issues mean that you need to replace the caulking or sealant as soon as possible. If, upon inspection, you find an area to be loose or missing, call professionals for a consultation.

Create a Snow Removal Plan

Before the winter season hits, collaborate with your roofing contractor on a snow removal plan. (Keep in mind that the average winter storm can leave six to twelve inches of snow on your roof overnight!)

It may be worth your time to have a conversation about snow guards, too. A well-thought plan is important because hasty snow removal without properly trained professionals can damage the roofing membrane and lead to even bigger issues.

Watch for Ice Damming

Ice damming involves more than the name suggests, and it’s one of the most common sources of damage from winter weather.

Your building’s rainwater management system is there to move heavy rain or snow away from your building. But, when a warm area meets a cold one, the water can freeze and create a barrier for drainage.

While many commercial property owners often feel like ice dams happen out of nowhere, regular maintenance can prevent them from forming.

Check Your Roof After First Snowfall

Don’t simply guess how much stress your commercial roof can handle this winter!

Early snowfall is a blessing for individuals who own a commercial building, because it creates an opportunity to see how your roof performs (without happening in the heart of winter).

Ask these questions when you, or your contractor, inspect after the first snow:

  • Are the awnings buckling under the pressure of the snow?
  • Is runoff water flowing through the rain management system?
  • Are there piles of ice or snow close to the roof?
  • Is the snow melting in a consistent pattern?

Schedule Regular Roof Inspections

If you only schedule one roof inspection for the year, make sure it’s in the fall. However, industry professionals suggest it be done at least twice a year.) These inspections allow you to address issues before the winter weather starts and can assist in finding all of the issues mentioned above. 

Roof inspections look for flashing issues and cracks in the membrane that expand after snow melts and refreezes. Professionals also take the time to check the drainage system so that you don’t risk the integrity of your roof.

Often, a commercial inspection will include the following maintenance procedures:

  • Check of membranes to ensure there are no dips, ponding or punctures
  • Keep downspouts free from debris
  • Keep roof ventilation free from debris
  • Ensure that the roof flashing and seals remain in good condition
  • Comprehensive inspection for any damage, deterioration or weaknesses

If the contractor notices any roof damage, they’ll assess and determine what needs to be done to remedy the issues and then build a plan to conduct the recommended repairs

Need Help With Winterizing Your Commercial Roof?

If you decide to inspect your own roof, be sure to take the necessary safety precautions by wearing safety gear. Don’t make winterizing a liability for yourself!

Remember, a commercial roof can be dangerous in good weather, much less with ice and snow, and that’s why most property owners choose to work with a trusted commercial roofing contractor like TEMA Roofing. At TEMA, we’ll help extend the lifespan of your roof with trustworthy inspection and maintenance. Submit your service request today!