Commercial Roofing Winter Weather Hazards

It’s possible for a roof to take damage at any time of any year, but the winter season is especially harsh on the roof. The weather conditions and extreme temperature common during this season can create problems for businesses and commercial properties while making it difficult to deal with those issues.

Before these winter weather hazards which could pose any danger to a commercial roof, the building owner should be aware of what they are to minimize the potential for damage.

Wind

Typically, commercial structures use flat roofs which can resist strong winds better compared to a pitched roof. But flat roofs aren’t entirely flat, so there’s still a chance for wind damage just as with any pitched roof.

Winds can blow debris across your roof and cause damage or even tear down to the membrane structure. On older or poorly installed roofs, wind can loosen wall flashings, curb flashings and in extreme cases, it can also cause a complete roof blow-off like the one below. Winds can result in moisture getting underneath the roofing materials.

Cracked or damaged flashing caused by winter storms and strong winds is also a common issue for commercial roofs. Damaged flashing creates a seam for water to get under the surface of the roofing material, eventually creating water damage inside your building.

Snow

Snow can be pretty to look at, but once it accumulates, this lovely ice crystals can pose a danger on the roof and put building operations at risk.

While different types of roof can handle different levels of weight, excessive amounts of snow during winter can still add to the weight of any commercial roof and affect its load-bearing capacity. A large roof can cause a great deal of stress to the roof and compress the building’s insulation or worse, damage the roof deck. Over time, it can even lead to complete roof failure.

When the roof had already exceeded the maximum load of snow it can handle, you’d hear loud popping sounds coming from it. Other indications include metal supports sagging, warped wood and any distortion.

Quick Change in Temperature

During early winter we often get a warm day, but a frigid night. Extreme temperature changes can be challenging for a roof and can lead to significant damage. When the temperature gets warmer, the building’s structure, including the roof, begins to expand and when it gets colder, everything starts to contract.

A roof may experience thermal shock when higher temperatures in the daytime plummet below freezing during the night.

As your roof system ages, it will not be able to handle the contraction and expansion. This might shorten the lifespan of the building’s roof every time it happens and eventually damage materials. You might also begin to see joints cracking, seams tearing loose, flashings separated, or the whole roof starts deteriorating which could be difficult to fix without a reflective roof.

When the worst cases of thermal shock occur, roofing materials at the end of their life cycle can literally split wide open.

Ice

Due to the cold weather during winter, ice becomes a common issue to all types of commercial roofs. When the water becomes either ice dams or icicles, it will plug the drainage system which can cause them to back up during a rapid thaw.

Just like a residential roof, ice can take form into ice dams and icicles on a commercial roof. Ice dams occur when heat from the building travels to the roof surface which causes snow to melt and refreezes due to the cold weather from the outside.

It can result in possible buckled floors, collapsed ceilings, weakened walls, and mold. The gutters could also warp and bent out of shape from supporting ice dams all winter.

Icicles form in the same way as ice dams. Eventually, they can become too heavy and make the gutters, downspouts collapse.

To limit the likelihood of dealing with problems that may lead to costly commercial roofing repairs, make sure that the roof receives proper maintenance before the winter season even begins.

Fahey Roofing Contractors are the reliable contractors you need to help with the necessary roof repairs and roof replacement. Contact us at (304) 735-7663 to learn more about our different commercial roofing services and commercial roof repair services.

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