Winter Storm Kenan is currently targeting the East Coast, threatening to bring with it heavy snowfall and blizzard conditions, along with high winds, coastal flooding, and beach erosion. As businesses and residents in the path of the storm brace for a “bomb cyclone,” Legacy Roofing Services urges facility managers and commercial building owners to be vigilant about what is happening up above.
Freezing temperatures, snow, wind and other elements can wreak all sorts of havoc during the winter months, but the weather can be especially harmful to the roofing on commercial buildings. Regular preventative maintenance will greatly reduce the number of incidents of winter roofing nightmares.
“Performing repairs and other work on roofing in climates with extreme weather can be difficult in the winter months,” said Matt Malorni, service director of Legacy Roofing Services, one of the largest commercial roofing providers in the U.S. “In many instances the work may need to be postponed or for problems that cannot wait, temporary fixes may need to be used until the winter weather passes.”
Malorni offers the following tips for facility managers and commercial real estate owners to help their roofing weather the winter months:
- Don’t forget large amounts of snow sitting on a roof can cause problems. If the weight of the snow becomes too much for the roof to bear, it could cause cracking, leaks or even collapse entirely. A heavy load of snow on a roof can also result in structural damage to the building.
- Make certain whomever is clearing snow off the roof has a map or a layout of what is present on the roof, such as gas lines, HVAC units, vents and electrical equipment. Hitting any of these items with a strong snow shovel could cause major damage as well as present a significant safety hazard for the worker.
- If used too forcefully, a snow shovel may cause gauges in roofing materials, loosen shingles or cause other damages. When shoveling a roof, be mindful of the depth of the snow and try to shover it off layers at a time.
- Brush off all vents to prevent them from getting blocked. Not only will a blocked vent cause problems with the ventilation system of the building, but it can also create condensation that can leak into the ducts of the building and cause leaks.
- When snow melts and then refreezes, it can create an “ice dam” effect which prevents water from running into gutters and off the roof. This excess precipitation can get under shingles and other roofing materials and cause damage to the roof as well as leaks in the building.
- Be on the lookout for icicles. At shopping centers, downtown districts and other high traffic areas, large icicles that fall off roofs can create enormous safety hazards for passersby.
- Clear all gutters as thoroughly as possible. Snow and ice can block gutters and prevent water from properly draining off the roof. In addition, the extra weight of snow and ice can put an undue strain on gutters causing them to collapse.
- During the winter, the repeated freeze and thaw can cause roofing materials to expand and contract. This can lead to cracking and other compromises in the integrity of the roof. Therefore, it is important to perform pre-and-post winter inspections to fix any problems before the snow falls.
Malorni adds that while some general roofing repairs are possible during an extreme winter, they are oftentimes limited due to various factors such as trying to bond materials together in freezing weather, worker safety and the ability of crews to access various parts of the roof.