26 Sep, 2016

How to Prepare Your Commercial Roof for Winter

Splits in the membrane, leaks, separations in seams, ridges, blisters, and deterioration can all lead to roof failure, especially during the cold, icy months of winter. If your flat commercial roof is old and showing signs of deterioration, it will save you money in the long run to restore the roof with a roof coating rather than having to replace it come spring. Even if you have a brand new roof on your building, no roof is impervious to the extremes that winter—and even summer—can bring. That is why it is important to address any repairs before winter arrives and safeguard your roof with an effective roof coating.

The Effects of Winter on Your Roof

There are two major culprits of commercial roof damage during the winter: temperature fluctuation and what’s called the freeze-thaw-freeze effect.

Temperature Fluctuations

When temperatures drop during the winter, the thermal shock of shifting from warm to cold makes your roof begin to expand and contract as temperatures rise again. We sometimes have those warmer days in the middle of winter when we can lighten our layers and snow begins to melt. It’s these types of days that really shock your roof system because the temperatures will inevitably drop again. The more extreme your area’s temperature fluctuations, the more your roof expands and contracts, weakening its structural integrity and risking premature roof failure.

Freeze-Thaw-Freeze Effect

Fluctuating temperatures from freezing to mild during the winter lead to melting and freezing snow. The same fluctuation can create serious problems for your commercial roof. The freeze-thaw-freeze effect happens when snow falls on your roof, but as it reaches the surface of the roof, the heat from inside the building melts the first layer of snow. That melted snow seeps into open cracks and seams throughout the roof. As snow continues to fall, it re-freezes the melted snow, which expands within the cracks. This opens the cracks even wider and increases the chances of roof leaks and interior molding or damage. The thawing snow can also pool on a flat roof, weighing it down and stressing any existing defects. These natural but preventable problems can lead to costly repairs or even the need for a roof replacement.

Ways to Safeguard Your Commercial Roof

With the onset of snowfall, check your drainage systems on your roof to avoid pooling or freezing water. Ensure all pipes, gutters, and drains are clear to allow for easy water flow. The best way to avoid roof failure is prevention. Before the cold winter months arrive, have a professional roof inspector take a look at your commercial roof. You’ll be able to find any damage in need of repairing before it’s damaged even more by the cold and ice. This is a routine you should maintain year-round in order to ensure the condition of your roof is at its best, whether your region is facing impending blizzards or pleasant annual weather. If cracks, leaks, or damage are found, you can then correct those defects with the appropriate coating to seal and reinforce your roof.

Older, more damaged roofs will fail more easily and quickly when exposed to weather extremes. By applying a roof coating, you will help extend the life of your roof and protect it from the coming winters whether you have a single-ply membrane or metal roof. It is a cost-effective method of protection, saving you a headache and a lot of money down the road. Our RC-2000 Rubber Roof Coating is a versatile coating option that is equipped to withstand weather extremes and can be used on most commercial roofing types. If you just need to fill cracking seams on your roof, we can help you find the best coating products for your application and avoid incompatible coatings. With many regions moving into milder weather this fall, get a headstart on protecting your commercial roof by contacting Inland Coatings for the best roof coating solutions.