Flat roofing systems are growing more popular in modern architecture. Aside from their appeal, they’re also known for their versatility, energy efficiency and ease of maintenance. Compared to sloped roofs, flat roofs consume less space and require fewer materials, resulting in lower construction and repair costs. However, low-sloped and flat roofing systems are more likely to accumulate snow and ice during the colder months.
Use these tips to help you avoid snow damage and save on roof repair costs.
What Can Snow Do to Your Flat Roof?
Once you’ve noticed an accumulation of snow on your flat roof, you should have it removed immediately. Failure to do so can cause ponding due to melted snow. Aging roofing systems are more susceptible to damage brought about by constant freezing and thawing.
During the day when temperatures are warmer, water can evaporate, but at night as it gets colder, it will likely refreeze. The roofing material can expand as water freezes, causing cracks and crevices to form. Water increases in volume as it freezes. When restricted into a small area, the expansion of water can immensely strain that space. The pressure from the repeated freeze-thaw cycles will eventually damage the surrounding roofing companies.
Ponding and Bowing
Snow tends to settle more on flat roofs, and the added load can strain the system. It can cause the joists and trusses to buckle, resulting in ponding. The water from the snow will create even more pressure once low spots form. When ponding occurs, it’s not only your roof that will suffer but also rooftop equipment, such as HVAC and electrical systems. In commercial structures, damage to these secondary systems can cause operation or work disruptions.
Snowmelt and standing water are common culprits behind roof damage. When left unaddressed, leaks will eventually occur, and water will find its way into your home. In many instances, you won’t even know that the damage has developed until signs of leaks are noticeable inside the house. By that time, the damage is likely already widespread, and extensive repairs or a replacement may be necessary. The easiest way to save yourself from costly repairs is to have a snow load removed from your flat roof.
Different gutter problems can stem from water buildup during winter. They would need to work harder to bring water away from your roof and home. When temperatures drop, water in your gutters can quickly freeze. The accumulation of ice will result in poor drainage, which can compromise both your roof and gutters. Depending on how severe the issue is, removing sections of the gutter system may be necessary to allow proper water drainage. You need to have any damaged gutter components repaired or replaced immediately to avoid water-related problems.
How Can You Avoid Snow Damage on Your Flat Roof?
Get Regular Inspections
One of the easiest ways to avoid roof damage is to schedule regular professional inspections. You must also have your roof checked after an extreme weather event. An experienced roofing company can spot and address issues in their early stages.
Reliable roofers will look for signs of damage, check the roofing membrane and assess the overall integrity of the system. They will see to it that drainage outlets are working efficiently. These professionals will also recommend the best ways to prolong the life of your flat roof. Moreover, experts recommend getting a roof inspection at least once a year.
Upgrade Your Insulation
The attic space between structures with flat roofing systems and ones with sloped roofing systems is often different. Most homes and buildings with flat roofs usually lack attic space. It means that the heat from the structure can warm up the roof. As a result, the snow on the roof surface will melt and cause water to travel towards the edge of the system and refreeze, leading to the formation of ice dams.
Ice dams are among the last things you want to see in winter because they can result in various roofing issues. Ignoring these ice formations can compromise your gutter system, loosen shingles and allow water to get beneath the shingles and into your home. Water that fails to drain from the roof can enter your attic and penetrate the insulation, walls and other parts of your home. Common signs water has reached your living spaces are peeling paint, dark stains on surfaces, warped floors, sagging ceilings and mold and mildew growth.
One way to avoid ice dams is to upgrade your insulation. Doing so will prevent heat from your living spaces from warming up your roof. You can improve your flat roof’s insulation by adding a layer of rigid foam insulation to its underside. Another option is to go for fiberglass insulation.
Invest in Quality Waterproofing
Your flat roof can go through a lot during the colder months. Harsh winter conditions, such as high winds and heavy snowfall can put a lot of wear and tear on the structure of your roof. In many instances, these elements can damage your roof, causing water to enter your living space.
Waterproofing is essential to your home or business’ protection against water damage. It contributes to the strength of your roof, seals gaps and cracks, prevents leaks and helps maintain a smooth roofing surface. Some waterproofing membranes can serve as a watertight sheet. These products typically have a lifespan of between 20 and 30 years. You should have your waterproofing checked if it’s at least two decades old to determine if it needs replacement. Moreover, before purchasing a property, it’s a good idea to ask the seller when the waterproof membrane was installed or last replaced.
Remove Snow Regularly
Snow removal is even more important if you have a flat roof. Excessive snow can cause problems like leaks, ice dams and even roof collapse. You’ll know it’s time to contact a provider of residential or commercial roofing services by checking your interior doors.
Open and close each door in your home, paying more attention to ones near the center of your home. Are there doors that are difficult to operate or sticking more than normal? This could be a sign that the weight of the snow on your roof is putting excess pressure on the structure of your home. It is what makes your door frame seems smaller. If this is the case, schedule a snow removal appointment immediately.
Schedule Routine Cleaning and Maintenance
Taking proper care of your roof will prepare it for whatever nature has to bring. Regular cleaning is vital to the efficiency and longevity of flat roofing systems. It’s because they are more likely to gather leaves, branches, twigs, seeds and other debris. These items can retain moisture that can harm your roof. When the wind blows, they can end up in the drains and cause clogs. When this happens, snowmelt won’t get drained properly from your roof, resulting in ponding. Before the colder months arrive, be sure to schedule professional roof cleaning and maintenance to keep this issue from occurring.
Keep Your Gutters Clog-Free
Whether you have a sloped or flat roof, proper drainage can do wonders for its longevity. Your gutters play a significant role in preventing snow damage on roofs. Before winter arrives, you should schedule gutter inspection and maintenance. To ensure melted snow drains properly, your gutters and downspouts should be free from debris that can cause clogs.