Snow and ice put a strain on any roof. But the flat roofs of commercial buildings can be especially hard hit by problems like ice dams and leaks. Structurally, it's important to keep a flat roof free of excessive weight. And there are things you can do – both inside and outside – to keep your roof in the best shape possible. Here are some of the problems that could, if left unchecked, lead to a roofing catastrophe:
Problem: Rising Hot Air
Because warm air rises, a heated building in the winter will also have a warm roof. As the warm air rises to the top of the building, it may be lost to the outside through poor insulation. That air then warms the snow on the roof, melting its bottom layer. At the end of the day, when the temperature of the building is turned down and the temperature outside also falls, the water can refreeze into ice. This cycle of melting and refreezing can lead to ice dams and roof damage.
Solution: Ventilation and Insulation
The better the insulation of your building and roof, the less warm air will escape. If you have insulation problems, techniques like infrared scanning, which many roofing contractors can do, will show you where heat is escaping from your building. Adding insulation or implementing commercial roof repair can make a big difference for your roof, and as an added bonus, it may also lower your heating bills.
Problem: Clogged Gutters
This is a simple one – without clear gutters, any water on your roof – including the water from melting snow – won't be able to run off properly. Instead, it may pool on the roof, backing up and causing leaks or infiltrating your insulation. If there is enough of a slope to the roof for water to still run off, you can still have problems as the water accumulates against the building's foundation.
Solution: Clean and Inspect
Debris problems will vary throughout the year, from fall leaves to spring ice. Clearing out the gutters twice a year is the best method for dealing with this. If you notice standing water in your gutters even after they are cleared, the gutters aren't sloped properly, and you should call a roofing professional to angle them.
Problem: Heavy Winter Weather
No one can control the amount of snow you get. So even with good planning, you may end up with excessive snow on your roof. In some parts of the country, this might even be an annual occurrence. And even a moderate amount of snow on your roof could be a problem if severe weather moves into the area before you get a chance to have it cleared.
Solution: Professional Snow Clearing
It makes sense to clear your roof of snow. But why professional snow clearing? For one thing, climbing on icy roofs in the winter can be dangerous work, requiring experience and equipment. In addition, there are plenty of concerns when it comes to clearing off snow: will it land on a sidewalk or walkway? Is there anything that might be damaged by the falling snow? Is there so much that it may need to be transported away? Hiring a professional means being sure, even though the removal can be complicated, that it will be handled expertly.
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