How Cold Weather Affects Commercial Roof Systems

Although the harshness of winter varies from place to place and year to year, if your commercial facility is in the Northeast or Midwest, it’s a given that cold weather and the accompanying weather will definitely have an impact on the roof. Here are some things to consider:

Material expansion and contraction. The weeks leading up to the “official” start of winter can provide wide temperature extremes, as the warmish days of October and November are offset by the cold of nighttime. Roofing systems naturally expand and contract with these changes, and when the temperature drops to an extreme level, rooftop components can separate and lose integrity because of these stresses. Roof membrane components are vulnerable in areas where seams may be weak, as are edge materials (whether plastic or metal) that help secure the perimeter.

Water freeze and thaw cycles. It’s common for water on the roof to freeze and thaw multiple times during the winter months, which can worsen otherwise seemingly minor problems. Small cracks in the membrane, for example, can grow quickly, letting moisture into the building. The lesson: before the onset of severe winter weather, make sure the integrity of your roof is intact.

Installation challenges. Although most commercial roofing systems can be installed in the winter, there are challenges to address. Single-ply membranes will be stiffer and more difficult to roll out on the rooftop. Some heat-welded systems have a narrower ambient temperature window for effective seaming than others. A crew member who’s cold on the rooftop may be less attentive to installation details. For a wintertime roof installation, the contractor you choose should have a successful experience in those conditions.

Clearly, there are challenges to roofing in the winter. Choosing a qualified, professional commercial roofer like Complete Commercial Roofing for your roofing installation and/or maintenance needs can help ensure that roof on your commercial facility will come through winter in good shape.

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