Your Commercial Roof in the Winter

The winter weather might be frightful, but it’s the job of your commercial roof system to keep it outside where it belongs. That’s true in every season, but wintertime brings roof challenges that are unlike those during other times of the year.

Thermal expansion and contraction create stresses on all parts of your commercial roof. Even during particularly harsh winters, there will be times when direct daytime sunlight can “warm up” sections of your roof, causing them to expand. At night, these sections shrink back again. Even slight movements – perhaps not even visible – can pull at membrane seams, create gaps in perimeter edging, compromise flashing integrity, and promote other problems. Any of these can lead to leaks.

Not only do temperature fluctuations affect the roof system itself, but they also create freeze-and-thaw cycles for water that’s on the rooftop. Although snow itself may not be an issue as it’s “dry,” it also can be warmed by the sun and melt. The water can then penetrate even small cracks or punctures and get underneath the roof membrane. Continuous freezing and thawing of this moisture can then make those small openings larger, creating an environment for even bigger problems.

As there’s bound to be liquid water on your roof – whether during the winter or when springtime finally arrives – it’s critical to keep your drainage system clear so that it can flow freely. Standing water in gutters can freeze and cause ponding behind it on flat roofs or lead to ice dams on shingle roofs. Some flat commercial roofs have interior drains, and these need to be kept clear as well.

The bottom line is that you can’t neglect your roof in the winter. Periodic rooftop inspections should be part of your responsible building management plan. Keep an eye out for these potential issues and anything else that seems out of place. And remember when you’re on the roof in the wintertime, be especially careful. Obviously, any snow or ice on the roof surface can be extremely hazardous.

If you want to leave your commercial roof inspection and maintenance activities to a professional, please give Complete Commercial Roofing a call. We would welcome the opportunity to serve you!

©2020 Complete Commercial Roofing Inc.