Summer just ended, and no one wants to think about snow, freezing rain, or plummeting temperatures before it’s absolutely necessary. But the truth is, preparing for winter now and protecting your facility’s asphalt roof can save money and prevent numerous headaches when the cold weather hits. The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) offers expert tips on preparing both commercial and residential roofing systems for the winter.
Combatting problems like ice damming, snow accumulation, and icicles can be dangerous and expensive for both flat and steep roofs. Ice dams, which can be the most damaging to a roof, form due to the constant freezing and thawing of melting snow. Slush can also back up into gutters. This causes water to be forced under the roof, causing the deck to swell, resulting in waviness and buckling of the deck and shingles, as well as damage to a building’s ceilings, walls, insulation or other structural components.
“If current weather predictions hold true, we’re looking at another extremely freezing, snowy winter,” said Reed Hitchcock, executive vice president of ARMA. “That is a recipe for ice damming and other costly problems that can damage both low and steep-sloped roofs.”
Fortunately, there are steps you can take now to help prevent this kind of damage to your facility’s roof.
- Make sure your attic is well ventilated. If ventilation is poor, water vapor generated can reach the cold underside of a roof deck and condense. If not addressed, this moisture build-up can damage the deck, insulation, and drywall. Proper ventilation, which differs based on geographic climate, keeps the attic temperature closer to the outside temperature to prevent snow on the roof from melting and refreezing at the eaves. Consult your local building code authority to find your specific ventilation requirements.
- Keep your attic well-insulated. Attic insulation at the ceiling level helps to keep warm air from escaping from into an attic, where it can reach the underside of a roof deck to cause ice damming. Proper insulation keeps the attic cold and the rest of the facility warm. It can even lower your heating bill. Attic ventilation and insulation can be implemented without replacing the roof.
- Inspect and maintain a commercial roof. ARMA recommends that low-slope asphalt roofs be inspected twice a year, once during the spring and again in the fall, to identify potential problems and make key repairs. By inspecting your roof now, you can address any issues before the snow arrives and remains on a roof for months on end. Proper maintenance can prevent the development of conditions with the potential for causing damage.