Commercial roof repair is a very involved process but becomes even more of a challenge in adverse weather. California winters often bring a lot of rainfall which can be dangerous for roofing and complexity for roofing repairs. Commercial building owners need to be aware that leak repairs performed over the summer months are much easier than in pouring rain. It is often easier to identify any problem areas during warmer months. Luckily, California has plenty of sunny days.
Winter Maintenance for Flat Roofing
Identifying the problem area and applying the materials needed for the repair in the warm summer months is fairly straightforward. That same repair is attempted in late January or early February, which can be more challenging and doubles the work and price. The reason is that cooler and wetter weather produces conditions that create more work for roofers when they get up on a commercial roof. After any slush has been cleared, the surface needs to be salted so it is safe to walk on. They also need to get the ladder set and erected safely, especially in wet conditions. As you might expect, locating a leak on a flat roof that holds collections of water can be a very time-consuming job.
Repairing a simple, slow-dripping leak can take several hours because all excess water needs to be removed first. Then the surface needs to be dried sufficiently to apply repair materials. The use of a propane torch and scrubbing is often done to get this task completed quickly. A good way to avoid costly winter repairs is to have your roof maintained before winter’s rain arrives. Here are a few things to watch for during the winter months:
- Remember that the warm air inside your building can cause a leak to start once cold rain accumulates on the roof surface, even in areas without cracks or leaks
- Contraction occurs when temperatures drop, causing the roof membranes to bend and buckle. This can result in leaks and damage to the roof surface.
- Ice can form as temperatures drop in the evening and form along with the gutters and drains. This prevents any drainage from occurring and can result in considerable damage to your roof surface.
Flat roofing is especially problematic when it comes to rain. While they give a sleek appearance to the building, they do not allow for much water run-off. These have a slight pitch, but they still collect more rain and debris than traditional sloped roofing. Caring for your flat roof in winter requires more prevention and is best when done before winter arrives. Even in warm regions like California, you can take these five measures to prepare your roof against winter wind and rain.
- STEP #1: Sweep the roof clear of debris, such as leaves, twigs, and small branches. Excess debris encourages water pooling, and this will increase stress on the roof and increases the chance of leaks. Don’t apply too much pressure when you sweep, as this may damage the roofing membrane or remove the protective coating. Remove leaves, dirt, and debris from the cage-like drain hub and surrounding area by hand.
- STEP #2: Remove the drain hub with an adjustable wrench and spray it clean, using a garden hose and high-pressure attachment. This will dislodge minor buildup. You can also use a plumber’s snake through the drain to clear clogs. Replace the hub and repeat the process for every drain. Clearing your drains will prevent water from collecting on the roof during the winter rainy season.
- STEP #3: Cut back limbs that hang over the roof before winter hits to reduce your chance of broken limbs damaging your roof. This also cuts back on debris, which in turn, prevents clogged drain spouts and pooling water.
- STEP #4: Inspect your roof for holes, cracks, and dents. Check the roof’s caulking along the flashing and look for puddling or standing water, which indicate low areas that may need to be fortified.
- STEP #5: Check your roof for blisters, or mushy pockets of water between layers of roofing.
These pockets must be cut out and replaced. Look for cracked surfaces, which may indicate the need for a new application of roofing tar. Contact us for any questions or concerns about getting your flat roof ready for winter. We are here to help with any repairs, if needed so call for a consultation today.