Winter brings holidays and traditions that many of us look forward to, but for your commercial roof, getting through the harsh winter weather can be rough. The best way to protect your investment is to seek out and follow expert advice on winterizing it. Doing so will not only reduce wear and tear, but it will also help you conserve energy and save money.
It’s important to prepare your roof for winter before the weather sets in. Problems that are simple fixes on a clean, dry roof suddenly become difficult—if not impossible—when there’s a layer of ice and snow involved. And all the stress those conditions put on your roof can quickly turn small problems into big ones.
Start with an Inspection
The first step of any roofing inspection is to have a qualified professional hop up there to take a look at exactly what’s going on. Scheduling an annual inspection for each fall is a great call—you’ll find any new issues that cropped up from constant exposure to the summer heat (which can cause cracks to appear) as well as any damage from summer storms.
It’s also a good idea to plan an inspection each spring, to find any potential problems caused by the winter weather. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, as they say, and that’s especially true in the commercial roofing business. Fixing an open roofing seam can be quick and easy affair. Replacing an entire section of your building because of damage from a leak is not. And that’s without even thinking about any damaged inventory that comes along with a major roofing leak!
A qualified roofing inspector will check every component of the roof, including the decking, insulation, underlay, surface membrane, flashing, vents, drainage pipes, and gutters. A problem with any one of these parts of your roof could cause expensive damage if left untreated.
Combine your semi-annual inspections with a good roof cleaning to extend the life of your roof. Remove leaves and twigs, clean the gutters and drains, and take care of any debris that may have wound up there during a storm. A clean roof is an effective roof; it will drain properly and last longer. You’d also be surprised at just how heavy wet leaves can become, and there’s no need to subject your gutters to that sort of stress!
Plan for Snow and Ice
If you live in an area with winter weather, you need to have a plan for removing it from your commercial roof in a timely fashion. Just as the weight of wet leaves can cause unnecessary stress on your roof, ice and snow can quickly pile up and cause a tremendous burden on your roof.
If the weather is right, ice and snow can thaw during the day and refreeze at night. This puts a lot of stress on your roof, as the ice contracts into water and expands back into ice, causing the seams of your roof to expand and contract along with it. Snow stuck in this freeze/thaw cycle also becomes harder to remove than fresh snow, so it’s best to have a plan that lets you shed snow shortly after it has fallen.
Prep Skylights and other Windows
Skylights can be a major source of heat loss, and they can be difficult to access and maintain on your own. If you have them in your commercial property, be sure to include them with the roofing inspection.
So much of a building’s heat is lost through the skylights and windows, they’re the first place to start when it comes to getting ready for a long, cold winter. Weather stripping and insulation films can keep up to 70% of your heat from escaping, cutting down on heating costs and helping to make your building stay more comfortable all winter long. If opening the windows isn’t a concern, you can make your windows even more heat efficient by sealing their edges with insulation.
Ready for Winter
Routine maintenance is absolutely vital for the long-term health of your commercial roof. Find a roofing repair expert you can trust, and get in the habit of scheduling pre- and post-winter inspections to extend the life of your roof, protect your valuable property investment, conserve energy, save money, and avoid bigger problems down the road!