Winter can be particularly hard on a flat commercial roofing, particularly when it snows. This is because snow can't slide off a flat roof as easily as it would a pitched roof. When there are heavy snow and low temperatures, that weight can sit on the roof for a long time. The following tips can help you avoid snow damage on your flat commercial roof:
Tip #1: Schedule a drain assessment
Drains will be the most important thing on your roof once the snow begins to melt. After a heavy snowfall, you may be surprised to find out some melt begins immediately regardless of temperature, since the weight of the upper snow layers cause lower levels to melt. This means a leak can occur even when temperatures are well below freezing. Clogged drains are often the culprit. To get around this, have your drains checked by a roof in fall. They can remove any clogs as well as assess the drains you have to ensure they fit the needs of your building and the changing weather patterns in your area. In some cases, you may need to have new drains or larger drainage troughs installed, but this is a small expense compared to major roof damage.
Tip #2: Patch proactively
Small leaks are a fact of life on flat roofs, particularly as they age. They become major problems in winter, though. Moisture seeps into leaks in your roof membrane, where it then freezes and expands. This creates a larger leak. Combine this with the weight of ice and snow, and it's easy to understand how a major problem can occur. A roof inspection can help you avoid leak issues because this ensures leaks are caught early when the flat roof membrane can still be patched. When leaks are left to become large, the chances of needing a whole new roof increase.
Tip #3: Develop a snow plan
No matter how proactive you are, heavy snow can cause damage to even the best-prepared roof. Every roof is rated to hold a specific snow load. The minimum weight is generally set by local building codes, but it is important to know the rating for your roof since it may be engineered for a higher weight. Then, have a plan for when the weight of the snow approaches the load capacity. This means having a roofing contractor on call that has the tools and the knowledge to safely remove snow from the flat roof. You don't want to have untrained maintenance workers on the roof with a shovel since flat roofs must be tread on carefully to avoid damage.
For more help, contact a commercial roofer in your area.