How can severe winter cold, snow and Ice damage your commercial flat roof in central Ohio?

Ohio winter weather can be severe, with driving snow, harsh sleet, and accumulating ice. Add strong winds and freezing rain, and you have the perfect recipe for commercial flat roof damage.  A flat roof may sometimes allow water & ice to collect rather than drain off. Proper material choice & installation can offset the problem, but it should be checked annually with a visual inspection to look for separated seams, cracks or any other issue. Here are a few warnings to keep in mind concerning winter weather damage to a flat roof.

Freezing temperatures.

When the thermostat dips below freezing, roof materials may become more brittle, and sometimes they crack. Just about any crack, no matter the size, may create a leak, which damages not only the roof but also the internal structure beneath it.

High winds.

When commercial flat roof materials are properly installed and secure, regular wind uplift should not be a problem. But if the materials are not installed to the manufacturers specifications and have loosened or if winds gust to high levels, flat roofs can tear loose exposing large areas of roof.  This may allow rain and snow to penetrate the roof surface and may cause damage to roof insulation and decking, interior walls and fixtures and even cause structural damage.

Ice & Snow buildup.

In Ohio, winter ice & snow can build up to heavy levels, causing even the best flat roof systems to be tested.  Any small defect can cause a leak. Ice is particularly responsible for flat roof damage when ice forms on flat commercial roofing and has nowhere to go. It may hold water and keep the roof from properly draining which makes the roof more vulnerable to leaks.  In extreme cases snow and ice should be carefully removed from large flat roofs to minimize the heavy weight to the structure, which could cause a collapse.

Heavy rain.

Like snow and ice, extremely heavy rainfall can form pools that can make even a pin hole in the roof membrane produce a large amount of flat roof damage on personal and commercial buildings. While heavy rain is not as common in Ohio, it occurs often enough to be a potential hazard that can result in thousands of dollars in damage. Most manufacturers recommend a tapered flat roof system to increase the efficiency of water runoff and help increase the life of the flat roof system.

All of these weather issues are a concern for structures with flat roofs. Building owners should have their roofs checked in the Fall and again in the Spring, by trained flat roof professionals, to locate and repair any sign of wear or damage. Catching the problem early might cost as little as few hundred dollars for a simple, same-day repair by a professional roofer. But waiting for damage to increase to more noticeable levels may end up costing far more, perhaps even requiring substantial repair or a roof replacement. Building owners should have routine inspections completed on flat roofs to ensure they hold up in the worst winter weather that may occur in Central Ohio.