How to Prepare Your Commercial Roof for Winter

How to Prepare Your Commercial Roof for Winter

As temperatures start to fall in the Chicagoland area, that can only mean one thing: winter has arrived. That means months of rough weather and potentially hazardous storms hitting your commercial roof.

If untreated beforehand, winter weather deals a heavy blow to your commercial roof, causing extensive and expensive repairs. But with some preparation, you can prevent serious damage and protect your property.

Our guide on preparing your commercial roof for winter identifies several ways to safeguard your property from snowstorms and cold temperatures. Whether it’s commercial roof maintenance or quarterly inspections, Ridgeworth Roofing wants to help protect your commercial roof for winter.

5 Tips to Prepare Your Commercial Roof for Winter

Before snowflakes hit the ground, prepare your commercial roof for winter with these five tips.

1. Schedule an Inspection

One of the most important things you can do to prepare your roof for winter is to have it professionally inspected.

A commercial roof inspection by a qualified roofing contractor identifies any areas of concern that could cause problems during the winter months. 

They will also be able to recommend any necessary repairs or updates before the cold weather hits.

At Ridgeworth Roofing, we take maximizing the life of your commercial roof seriously. During our quarterly inspections, our team starts on the perimeter and moves toward the center, looking for ponding water, cracks, uplifted shingles, etc.

Once we’re finished, a team member will provide you with an inspection report covering information about the roof’s current condition and whatever current or potential problems exist.

2. Make Sure Your Roof is Clear

Before the temperatures go below freezing, check your roof for autumn debris. This includes leaves, twigs, branches, trash, and anything that may have blown on top of the roof during the fall.

Also, take some time to clear your gutters and downspouts to ensure that melting snow and ice can leave the roof. Standing water can enter the building and refreeze, creating more significant problems for your roof and structure.

3. Be Aware of the Weather and What You Might Need to do After a Storm

Heavy snowfall or sleet often results in structural damage. Extreme temperature fluctuations can lead to freeze-thaw cycles that cause significant roof damage. 

If you notice a leak or are concerned about the effects of a storm, call a professional roofing contractor to investigate the situation before going up there yourself.

4. Watch for Ice Dams

Watch out for ice damming, which occurs when internal building temperatures cause rooftop ice to melt from the underside, allowing water to get under the roof covering and leak into the building.

To help prevent this, clean your gutters and downspouts before winter arrives. You may also want to consider installing gutter guards to help keep them clear throughout the season.

5. When in Doubt, Stay on the Ground

This is less of a tip and more of a winter commercial roofing rule: never go on your roof unless you’re sure there’s no risk of slipping and falling. Snow, ice, and non-professionals on a roof surface do not mix.

Preparing Your Commercial Roof for Winter FAQ

How can I start preparing my commercial roof for winter?

The first thing you can do is conduct an informal inspection on your own. Go up on your roof and look around, as long as you are certain it’s safe. Early fall is an excellent time to walk on your roof, as icy conditions are unlikely.

Look for debris of all kinds: leaves, branches, and trash that may have blown on top of your roof. You’d be surprised at what can make its way up there. 

Plastic grocery bags, for example, are common culprits, especially in and around shopping centers. Remove anything that doesn’t belong, as debris can clog roof drains and gutters, preventing drainage and causing water to back up onto the roof surface.

Take a look at your HVAC equipment as well. Does everything appear to be in order? Are doors closed securely to prevent water from entering the building through them?

If you see debris that you can’t remove safely or have an issue with mechanicals on your roof that you cannot address, make a note and contact Ridgeworth Roofing right away.

What is the most important thing I should do to ensure my commercial roof is ready?

The best thing you can do for the health of your roof is to contact a professional roofing contractor to schedule an annual inspection and preventative maintenance

No matter how thorough a job you do on your rooftop inspection, nothing can match the expertise of a professional. They will check everything to ensure your roof’s ability to perform properly throughout the winter. 

And when you do call to schedule your appointment, do so as soon as possible, as safety concerns related to wintry weather can prevent a contractor from inspecting your roof and making any necessary repairs.

What should I be looking for in terms of damage?

Look at the roof’s surface and components for signs of wear and tear. For damage, examine the flashing, gutters, downspouts, scuppers, and scupper boxes. Check the entire surface for standing water, as ponding indicates a problem with drainage.

Once you return to the ground, you can also check inside the building for evidence of leaks. 

Staining is a telltale sign that water has somehow made its way into your building, but bear in mind that the roof is not always to blame. Whatever the cause, you’ll want to get to the bottom of where that water is coming from.

What if a heavy snowfall has left a mountain of snow on my roof?

Heavy snow places enormous stress on a roof, leading to structural failure.

You should never attempt to remove the snow from the roof yourself with shovels or ice picks, as this can damage your roof, and standing on a roof already under stress puts you at risk. 

Contact a professional roofing contractor to safely evaluate the situation and remove the snow.

Need a winter commercial roof inspection? The experts at Ridgeworth Roofing are here to help.

Ridgeworth Roofing’s trusted experts have provided Chicagoland residents with high-quality services, from commercial roof inspections to seasonal maintenance, for over 40 years. This winter, don’t let a little snow damage your commercial roof; contact Ridgeworth Roofing today.