The midwestern winter is upon us and unpredictability is to be expected. One week we have single digits and the next we’re hitting the 50-degree mark. These swings in temperature can be challenging for property managers striving to keep their commercial roofs in decent shape. The freeze-thaw cycle can cause water ponding, expansion and contraction damage, as well as ice damming. This blog will help you know what to watch out for as the weather makes drastic swings in temperature this winter.
Among all the weather-related challenges to commercial roofs, ice dams, in particular, can cause roof damage. Ice dams are mounds of frozen water that accumulate along the edge of a roof. Once ice dams form, they prevent melted snow from draining effectively. The result is trapped water that will pool and eventually seep through small openings causing interior leaks and damage.
Wide swings in temperature can exacerbate the formation of ice dams. Since ice dams can form in as little as 24 hours, it’s always a good idea to keep an eye on the forecast and the roof.
To prevent ice dams, it is crucial to maintain a good drainage system. There are several common drainage systems used on commercial roofs. Since these roofs are flat, or minimally sloped, the drainage system is very important for keeping water at bay. Preventative maintenance involves removing debris from drains and ensuring that downspouts are directing water away effectively.
If an ice dam has formed on your roof, be aware that even small dams can weigh hundreds of pounds and be dangerous. It is recommended that you call a professional as soon as possible to remedy the situation and avoid roof damage.
Ultimately, the best protection from ice dams is prevention. We recommend a proactive winter maintenance program including:
• Regular inspections
• Snow and ice removal
• Adequate insulation
• Proper drainage systems
So, as temperatures continue to rise and fall this winter, keep an eye on your commercial roof. Early detection is key for avoiding expensive repairs in the spring.