Preparing Your Roof for Winter

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Preparing Your Roof for Winter

Fri, 6 Dec 2013

Protecting your commercial roof from elements is essential to staying in business. Whether you work in an office, garage or warehouse, the roof must be in condition to prevent water damage that can cause work stoppage.  Winters can be harsh to roofs because accumulated snow or ice only takes a few degrees to melt, causing water to migrate in through the roof.

Here are a few tips to help your building and roof through the winter:

  • Check exterior walls for leaks, stains, cracks in brick, and missing mortar. Sealing these types of conditions will provide a much more weather-tight seal for the building, keeping the warm conditioned air in and the cold harsh weather out.
  • Check ceiling and interior walls for signs of leaks (stains).  Seal all possible roof leaks before the weather turns for the worse.  If rooftops become covered with ice or snow, it will be a nightmare finding and fixing roofing leaks.
  • Check roof deck, fascia/coping, and field of roof for any signs of deterioration. Check expansion joints for signs of excessive movement, splits, thin sections of membrane, deteriorated caulking, and loose metalwork. Cold weather has a tremendous effect on loose mortar or composite building materials, causing them to contract; if materials are already loose, they can easily separate and form water or wind access points into the facility.
  • Check HVAC ductwork, housings, condensation lines, pipes, and curb flashings.  Make sure the condensation lines are draining properly so that they are free from water. Empty the condensation pan on all HVAC units. Make sure HVAC doors are not rotted/rusting and are secured tightly.  The condition of HVAC equipment will affect the ability to keep the facility properly conditioned. These components need to be ready for the hard months ahead in order to receive maximum benefit.
  • Check all roof penetrations (pitch pans, vent pipes, pipe boots, etc.) for deteriorated caulking or voids.  Any point of air or water infiltration needs to be checked and restored to a properly sealed condition.
  • Check and clear drainage gutters, downspouts, and scuppers. Clean out all drains, and make certain they are working properly.  Check strainers and clamping rings that they are in place and secured.  Drainage problems become a root of future roof failure.  Unintended and excessive water weight is a danger in itself.  It is important that all drainage water moves freely.
  • Check base flashing and counter-flashing conditions and attachments. If snow accumulates on the roof, up and over the flashings, the roof can leak.
  • Remove all loose debris from the roof surface.
  • Inform all personnel that walking on a membrane roof is dangerous, especially during the winter.  Roof surfaces can form ice and create fall hazards.  Inform personnel that walking on the roof before 10:00 AM, before the roof warms and dries out, may also be extremely dangerous.
  • As colder temperatures arrive, membrane roof systems become harder, less flexible, and more acceptable to damage by puncture or sharp objects.
  • Remember, trained roof technicians should be your only choice when removing snow from rooftops.

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