How to Avoid Ice Damage on a Commercial Roof

Considering it’s only frozen water, ice is surprisingly adept at causing damage to a commercial roof. Left unprotected, a roof can emerge from winter much worse off than it was going in. Here’s some helpful information regarding what ice can do to a commercial roof and what to do to prevent damage.

Ice Damage to Commercial Roofs

When it gets cold, any water that is already on a roof may freeze and expand. This ice can block drains, buckle flashings, and expand gaps in the roof. Storms can also dump ice directly onto a roof. The weight of this ice can stress roof structures and, in some cases, even cause collapse. Even small amounts of ice will eventually melt, possibly causing water damage.

One of the most common problems is an ice dam on a roof. Ice dams occur when commercial roof ice melts and flows to the edge of a commercial roof. When this water re-freezes, it creates a wall, or dam, that can prevent future ice melt from leaving the roof. 

Preventing Ice Damage

Preventing ice damage on a commercial roof begins before winter even starts with an inspection in the fall. During this inspection, a roofer will examine the roof for moisture that may later freeze into ice. The inspector will also identify any clogs or blockages that will prevent ice melt from leaving the roof. For some roofs, the inspector may recommend a commercial roof ice system, known as an ice shield or ice guard.

Once winter is underway, some roofs may require regular de-icing. Chemical de-icers can prevent ice buildup during a storm and help clear a roof before ice buildup becomes a problem. It’s important to make sure that any chemicals used on the roof won’t damage the building materials and also comply with local environmental regulations.

Commercial Roof Ice Systems

Roof ice shields or ice guards are a protective coating that sits on top of a commercial roof deck. The membrane protects the roof from leaks as the ice melts. Once ice has melted, the water that doesn’t leave the roof will leak down to the ice guard, which will catch it and direct it toward the gutters. Installing this type of system in problem areas prevents standing water on a roof and ensures that ice doesn’t accumulate.

To learn more about how to protect your commercial roof from ice and snow, contact Maxwell Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc. today.

How to Prepare Your Commercial Roof for a Nashville Winter

Harsh winter conditions can spell disaster for an unprepared commercial roof. Even Nashville’s mild winters should be a concern for facility managers who want to keep their buildings in good shape. The shift from a hot summer to a cold winter leads to many changes on a rooftop, and if left alone, a roof can crack in the winter or spring a leak. Here are some tips for roof winterization in Nashville.

Why Worry About Winter?

The most common problem that roofs face in winter is the accumulation of ice. Moisture can build up on a roof during the summer and fall. Sometimes, this water can seep into caulking and roof panels or sit inside drains. When winter arrives that water freezes and expands, cracking the roof and creating clogs and leaks. 

How to Prepare a Roof for Winter

Every roof management program should include a plan for the winter transition. In places like Nashville, where snow is not common, roof winterization is typically focused on debris and moisture removal. While regular cleaning can sometimes be done by a general maintenance team, the cleaning in preparation for winter should be done by a professional so that they can properly inspect for clogs and ensure that all the drains are working properly.

Some roofs will also need small repairs in advance of winter. Small separations of roof panels and cracked caulking provide the perfect places for water to seep in. In winter, this water turns into ice and can cause structural problems in the roof or create a leak.

Emergency Response

Preparing an emergency response plan is also critical for winter. Ice storms can cause trees to fall or quickly fill a roof with dangerous debris. It’s critical to have a plan in place that allows you to respond quickly to these roofing emergencies. Having a professional on-call at all times during winter could save your building extensive damage in an emergency situation.

Prepare with a Management Program

Whether it’s winter or spring, all commercial roofs should have preventative maintenance plans to keep them working for the duration of their expected lives. The best way to do this is through a roof management program with a local roofing company. These programs provide customers with everything from forecast assessments to discounted repairs and roof winterization. Some programs, like Maxwell’s MAXCare® program, also provide 24/7 emergency response services to protect their customers’ roofs during extreme weather.

To learn more about how Maxwell Roofing & Sheet Metal Inc.’s MAXCare program can help you prepare for winter, contact us today.

Best Practices for Gutter & Roof Drain Debris Removal

Leaves and small debris may not seem like something that can damage a hardy commercial roofing system, but if left alone these little messes can turn into major problems over time, causing leaks and other damage. Regularly cleaning gutters and roof drains should be an integral part of any roof management program. Here are some tips for keeping those roofs sparkling clean:

Know your draining system

You’ve probably heard of gutters, but what is a roof drain? Roof drains are typically used on large commercial roofs to drain from the interior part of the roof and not just the edges. Whether you have gutters or a roof drain will change the frequency and type of debris removal that your roof requires. A professional roofer should be able to immediately identify which type of draining system a roof uses and to remove debris accordingly.

Safety first

Whether you’re the one going up on the ladder or you paid a professional to do the job, safety is the most important consideration when removing debris from a roof. Proper safety gear like goggles, gloves, and safety tie offs should be employed during the entire process. It’s also important to consider how the debris will be removed. Throwing leaves and sticks off the side of a roof can be hazardous to people below and workers should consider using bags to store the debris and remove it safely.

Watch out for clogs

A debris cleaning is a great time to examine the gutter and drain systems for clogs and wear and tear. When cleaning a roof, you should also water-test drains and gutters to ensure that moisture on the roof is able to escape properly. Check for loose bolts and screws on gutters, and examine flashings, sealants, and seams for problems. Not just any maintenance worker can do this kind of detailed inspection so it’s important to call in a professional at least a few times a year to make sure everything is working properly.

Prepare for winter

What is just a pile of damp leaves in the fall can become a frozen drain blockage during the winter. Small amounts of water pooling can also become an issue as water seeps into a roof and then freezes and expands. Just because roof debris seems innocuous in the summer doesn’t mean it won’t be an issue later on. Anticipating the change of seasons is an important detail in roof maintenance.

To learn more about how Maxwell Roofing & Sheet Metal can help keep your commercial roof debris-free, contact us today.