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Winterizing and Preparing for Ice, Snow and Cold

 

winterizing commercial roofs

Is your roof ready for winter? By now, hopefully, it’s had a professional fall inspection and it’s in good shape for the coming cold. If not, there’s still some time to get it done, but Old Man Winter is creeping ever closer and the window of opportunity is narrowing.

Don’t underestimate the importance of correcting defects and winterizing before the snow flies. No matter what the season, your roof should be well maintained, but the risk of leaks and damage from snow loads, melts and refreezes escalates when winter arrives.

Risks Increase with Cold Temps

One of the biggest risks for premature roof failure comes from neglecting to find and repair existing deficiencies. While defects in flashing and sealant failure at penetrations are leading causes of leaks, splits in the membrane, separations at seams, ridges, blisters and deterioration are also red flags that must be addressed before winter. A little professional attention now will save a lot of money and headache down the road.

Roof Coating Protection

Single-ply membranes that are nearing the end of their useful life can be brittle, more prone to leaks and less sound all the way around. Heading into winter with an old, multi-patched membrane is a gamble. Applying a roof coating now could extend your roof’s life and help protect it from winter’s wrath. Coating can also be helpful for aging metal roofs.

Not all roofs qualify for coating, but if yours does, it can be a cost-effective method of protection. A roofing professional will inspect the roof, replace any wet insulation that might be present, and repair damaged flashing and other problems before applying a coating.

Coating the roof isn’t a project for a maintenance crew. Using an incompatible coating, or misapplying a product, can create more problems than it solves. A reputable roofing company with experience in applying high-quality coatings is essential for success. Curing time is a bit longer in cool weather but new technology permits the application of some types of coatings at low temperatures.

What’s Your Snow Plan?

Excessive snow on the roof is a hazard, and in extreme cases, it can lead to roof collapse. Protect your roof with a snow removal plan. A fresh, lofty snow can add 20 lbs. of weight per cubic foot, but wet snow, or partially thawed and refrozen snow, can add as much 60 lbs. per cubic foot of weight. If you live in a northern clime, your roof was probably designed to bear some additional snow load, but the best practice is to have heavy snows promptly removed. To prevent damage to the roof and reduce the risk of injury to worker, snow removal is best left to the pros.

An Ounce of Prevention

At North American Roofing, we’ve been busy these past couple of months making sure our customers’ roofs are ready for winter. If you haven’t scheduled your pre-winter inspection yet – make the call today. Our professional roofing teams will make sure your facility roof is prepared for anything Mother Nature throws at you. Our teams are professional, highly trained, OSHA-compliant and available in every state. Time is of the essence. Call us right now at (800) 551-5602.

Winter Effects on Your Commercial Roof

Winter Effects - roof freeze - North American Roofing

 Heavy snows, record cold temperatures, and other winter effects send most facility managers indoors to focus on maintaining a comfortable interior climate. You probably have no intention of going up on the roof while your community is locked in winter’s icy grip. Snow, ice and thermal shock, however, aren’t taking a break. Commercial buildings with flat roofs are at increased risk because of their wide spans and their low-slopes that don’t permit snow to slide off with ease. Access might be limited now, but winter is not the time to forget about your facility’s roof.

The Freeze/Thaw Cycle

winter effects - roof snow drain - North American Roofing

The last thing you want is to form a bucket brigade inside your building come spring. Today’s commercial roofing systems are better than ever at defending against Old Man Winter’s onslaughts, but snow and ice, accompanied by partial thawing and refreezing, can wreak havoc on a roof, especially if the roof is nearing the end of its lifecycle. While ice is a formidable enemy anywhere on the roof, areas of special concern include drains, downspouts, tie-ins, flashings, seams and areas where snow drifts accumulate. With repeated thaw/refreeze cycles, the risk of damage to the roof increases. When water seeps into a crack and freezes, it expands the crack, leading to leaks.

Heavy Snows

snow-drift

In areas that receive considerable snowfall, commercial roofs are built to withstand additional weight, but heavy snows can still present a danger. While fresh snow can add up to 20 pounds of weight per cubic foot, if the snow partially thaws and refreezes, the weight can increase to as much as 60 pounds per cubic foot. Because moisture levels vary significantly, you can’t judge snow weight by the depth of the snow. Signs that heavy snows have exceeded your roof’s safe snow load include loud popping noises, bends in metal supports, cracked wooden supports, sagging purlins or other notable deformities.

Thermal Shock

Some types of roofing systems are prone to damage from repeated temperature extremes. Thermal shock occurs when daytime highs warm the roof’s surface, followed by nighttime temperatures that dip below freezing. Older roof membranes, like old rubber bands, eventually lose their tensile strength and their ability to expand and contract without deterioration.

Best Practice

In addition to snow removal, you’ll get the longest life out of your roof by having regular inspections, making repairs and scheduling routine maintenance. No roof is going to last forever, but, with professional care, many roofs can outlast their original manufacturer warranties. Our experts can assess your roof’s cold-weather risk and help you formulate a plan that will extend the life of your roof.

Call us today at 800-551-5602 to discuss your snow removal needs and to schedule your roof’s spring inspection.

Pre-Winter Roof Inspections Can Reduce Utility Costs

roof inspections - North American Roofing

There’s still time to reduce your seasonal utility costs before Old Man Winter sets in for good. Many parts of the country won’t succumb to the Big Chill until January or even February, but waiting that long to have your roof inspected is a gamble. Energy costs are at an all-time high, and if your facility’s roof isn’t up-to-par, you could be paying much more to heat your building than you should be.

Why Have an Inspection Now?

During this busy time of the year, it’s easy to become preoccupied with the holidays and end-of-year business activities. Unfortunately, if you don’t address relatively minor building envelope issues now, winter’s relentless freeze/thaw cycles could create bigger, more costly problems. During a standard inspection, a skilled roofing professional will examine the roof system and all roof components, including parapets, skylights, rooftop units, copings and seams. This is the time to make simple repairs and perform necessary maintenance to get your facility through the winter safely.

Keeping Moisture at Bay

Roofs and water don’t mix. When your roofing system is working the way it should, water drains harmlessly away but a loose seams, deteriorated sealant, a puncture or corroded flashing can allow water to seep in. Moisture compromises a roof’s insulation layer, rendering it ineffective, which contributes to skyrocketing utility costs. Over the winter, moisture that enters a small leak can freeze and expand, increasing the size of the leak, leading to moisture entrapment and damaging the roof structure beneath. Left unchecked, this contributes to mold growth, premature deterioration of the roof system and potential damage to the facility’s contents.

Never Miss Seasonal Roof Inspections

The best practice is to have your facility’s roof inspections twice per year, once before winter’s blast, and again before the heat of summer. Even the strongest roofs can fall prey to airborne debris, drainage issues, damage from foot traffic or incorrect installation or shifting of rooftop units. Unless you’re trained to spot potential roof problems, you’ll miss them, setting yourself up for damage that could have been prevented. For facility managers committed to protecting their buildings, North American Roofing suggest RoofGuard, a premium roof inspection program that offers seasonal inspections and provides detailed reports that allow you to track the health of your roof.

It’s Not Too Late

Before ringing in the New Year, give North American Roofing a call. We’ll inspect your facility’s weather-resistant envelope and help you take the correct steps to protect it during this cold season and for years to come. Your roof’s thermal efficiency is directly related to the amount of climate-control energy you consume. By making the call today, you’ll not only save on winter energy costs, you’ll reduce the demand on your heating units as well.

Protect your roof – call North American Roofing today at 800-551-5602. You’ll be glad you did.

Escape Winter Roof Woes with Fall Maintenance Measures

Fall Maintenance - North American Roofing

Fall is the perfect time to prepare your facility roof for the coming cold. In many regions of the U.S., winter brings frigid temperatures, icy winds and heavy snow loads, all of which stress building roof systems. During repeated cycles of snow and ice melt, water can seep into tiny roof cracks and refreeze, expanding the cracks and increasing the risk of leaks and roof damage. The best way to protect against winter’s wrath is to make sure your roof is in good shape before the snow flies.

Fall Roof Inspections

During a fall maintenance inspection, a roofing expert will assess the overall condition of the roof and look for specific issues. Depending on the type of roof system, the inspector will be looking for shifted or missing ballast, debris buildup, coating deterioration, loss of membrane integrity, blistering, shrinkage, voids, punctures and seam gaps. Staining on the roof could indicate ponding water, which increases the risk of leaks and roof failure. The inspector should pay close attention to copings and perimeter edges. Careful inspection of sealant and flashings around all rooftop HVAC units and other penetrations such as skylights is essential. A good inspector will also note surrounding elements, such as large tree limbs that could break and damage the roof during blustery winter winds.

Pre-Winter Maintenance

Winterizing includes cleaning and removing debris from the roof and making sure drains, scuppers, gutters and downspouts are clear. In addition to sealing any punctures, blisters, cracks and seam gaps found during the inspection, a professional roofing maintenance team will secure or replace loose flashings around parapets, penetrations and roof-wall tie-ins. Additional repairs might be required depending on roof design and the potential for severe winter storms, ice buildup and heavy snow loads.

Roof Coatings

Fall is the perfect time to apply protective roof coating. The rubber-like properties of elastomeric roof coatings seal and protect aging roofs. One of the best features of elastomeric roof coatings is the ability to apply them over many different types of roofs, including modified bitumen, metal, single-ply membrane and built-up roofing (BUR) systems. The application of high-quality elastomeric roof coating this fall will protect your facility through the winter and could extend the life of your roof by 10 years, or more.

Put Your Roof in Good Hands

North American Roofing offers a full range of professional roofing services, including fall inspections and pre-winter maintenance. Most facility managers are adept at recognizing standard roof problems, but it takes a knowledgeable roofing expert to identify potential problems before they’re visible to the naked eye. We’re not weathermen, we can’t predict whether the upcoming winter will be mild or harsh, but we can prepare your roof for anything Mother Nature sends your way.

Call us today at (800) 551-5602 to schedule a comprehensive fall maintenance inspection and find out how to protect your roof from winter’s wrath.

Weather-Related Low-Slope Roof Damage: Prevention, Maintenance and Repair

Hailstorms top the list of potentially destructive weather events that can result in low-slope roof damage. Once compromised, heavy snow loads, rain and freezing temperatures can further impair the roof’s surface. Professional assessment and prompt attention is the key to protecting the roof. In the event of irreparable damage, it’s imperative to replace the roof before the underlying structure suffers.

Assessing Hail Damage

Powerful hailstorms can compromise the integrity of the roof without leaving visible punctures in the surface of the roofing. Hairline cracks and fractures may go unnoticed by the untrained eye of an insurance adjuster, but they will substantially shorten the life of the roof. Impact damage from hail that results in membrane depressions also increases the likelihood of future cracks. This type of damage is unlikely to result in a settlement from the insurance company that may view the damage as “cosmetic.”
Only a trained roofing inspector can reliably assess the level of damage to the roof and determine what type of maintenance or repairs are in order. The sooner a qualified inspector examines the roof, the sooner you can take the necessary steps to ensure roof soundness.

Destructive Freeze and Thaw Cycles

A high quality roof in good condition withstands normal temperature fluctuations, but extreme heat and cold, especially in combination with moisture, can wreak havoc on a roof that’s been previously compromised by hail damage. During periods of freezing rain or snow, moisture can seep into minuscule surface cracks and when the moisture freezes, it expands, enlarging the crack. Subsequent thawing and freezing cycles will continue the destructive process unless repairs are made to the roof’s surface to seal the cracks.

Ongoing Roof Observation

Periodic roof inspections are important for monitoring the condition of the roof; even if there have been no recent storms. The identification of potential issues before they can develop into serious problems saves money and prolongs roof life.

Repair or Replace?

Addressing storm damage immediately will save money over the long haul. The extent of the damage will determine the whether the roof is repairable or whether a new roof is necessary. The application of quality roof coatings can extend the life of the roof by sealing cracks and reflecting heat away from the surface. Coating solutions provide a tough but flexible seal that protects against weathering and moisture, until you’re ready to replace the roof.
For greater protection, the installation of single-ply, thermoplastic roof membranes, such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC), thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) or Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer (EPDM) offer a durable, puncture-resistant and long-lasting solution that can often be retrofitted over existing roof structures, including metal roofs.

The best practice is to install the highest quality roof you can afford and to protect it judiciously through regularly scheduled inspections and repairs.

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