Facility Dude

How to ensure your roof weathers the winter

By Kate Donnelly
Mar 13, 2015

Facilities Management

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Winter can affect more than your equipment costs and your heating bills. In addition to posing a safety risk, all that ice and snow that has built up over the months can wreak havoc on your roof as well.

It's easy to take your roof for granted, but there are few things that can tax its structural integrity like a buildup of winter precipitation. Nothing is worse than having your celebration of the spring thaw interrupted by the realization that the season's snow and ice has caused a leak, or worse, structural damage. Here are a few things to keep in mind to keep your roof in tip-top shape as winter comes to a  close.

Know the dangers

Winter weather brings several unique hazards that can threaten your roof. One of the largest and potentially most destructive is snow. According to North American Roofing, precipitation in winter can create a bigger problem than even many facility managers realize. Depending on the type of snow present, your roof's structural integrity may be severely compromised. For example, the source pointed out that while fresh snow can add around 20 pounds of weight per cubic foot to a roof, the same amount of wet slush or re-frozen snow can triple that load, creating a serious threat to your roof's structure. This danger is especially acute on flat roofs where there is no slope for any excess snow to fall off of.

Another wintertime menace that's somewhat more difficult to identify is hail. According to FacilitiesNet, most people associate  hail with punctured roof shingles. While this is certainly a danger, it's far more likely for damage to manifest in less obvious ways, such as curling or otherwise damaged shingles.

Inspection is key

It's impossible to stave off the weather events that can contribute to poor roof health in winter. However, a facility manager's best recourse is to be extra vigilant during these months, conducting regular inspections and tracking any changes to the roof condition in the building's CMMS. Roof audits should be a regular part of your building maintenance, but especially so in the winter months since there are so many more seasonal threats to be aware of.

State Farm Insurance highlighted some of the warning signs to look out for. If at any point you notice that the ridgeline of your roof is sagging, or if your ceiling begins to droop, it could be indicative of serious roof damage, and corrective maintenance should be carried out immediately. Water damage close to the ceiling could also hint at a damaged roof.

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