When your rooftop is covered with snow and ice, finding leaks is close to impossible.
That’s why it’s important to check ceilings and interior walls for signs of leaks, such as stains, and seal them before the bad weather. Late summer and early fall are ideal times to check exterior walls for leaks, stains, cracks in bricks and missing mortar. Sealing these will keep cold air out and valuable heat in.
Cold temperatures cause already loose materials to contract, leaving gaps for damaging water and winds to enter. Checking any roof deck and fascia/coping for signs of deterioration before the first winter storm is crucial. Look for deteriorated caulking around loose metal work, thin sections of membrane, signs of excessive movement and splits at expansion joints. You also want to check all penetrations on your roof such as pipe boots, pitch pockets and vent pipes, chimney flashings, and brick and mortar joints. To prevent contamination, any point of air or water infiltration should be immediately resealed.
Checking and clearing gutters, downspouts and scuppers is imperative. All drains should be cleaned of leaves and debris, and strainers and clamping rings should be checked. Water weight in a dysfunctional gutter system can loosen its attachment to the structure, causing further damage.
You’ll want to check all base flashing and counter flashing attachments. An experienced roofing contractor should be called in to survey the field of the roof membrane and redistribute all ballast across any bare spots. Any tears or holes in the membrane should be repaired immediately.
It’s a good idea to have several thick brush brooms ready for removing ice and snow from around rooftop units. Wind-driven snow can pile up against curbs and walls and if the snow is higher than the flashing, it can create a real problem when melting. In the event of a major storm, it’s best to contact a roofing professional to remove snow and ice in these critical areas.
Be sure to remove any tree seedlings that have started to sprout, as their roots that can damage the roof's drainage system. Clean out leaves and debris from around the drains and in corners to maintain adequate drainage and sunlight. Remove dead plants and prune overgrown bushes and flowerbeds to allow maximum sunlight and water to reach the vegetation and prevent ponding.
No one should walk on the rooftop before 10 a.m. or after dark, as this is when icy conditions are most likely to occur.
By taking these simple preventative steps, you’ll keep personnel and occupants safer and warmer, and your roof will be better prepared to take on whatever the winter has in store.
Bade Roofing Company. Founded in 1954, Bade Roofing Company, Inc. is one of St. Louis, Missouri's premier family-owned and operated commercial and industrial roofing specialists. Bade Roofing installs roofing systems on major retail centers, grocery stores, hospitals, schools, warehouses and office buildings. www.baderoofing.com