What does the Freeze Thaw Cycle do to Your Commercial Roof?

2020 was a year full of surprises, but winter coming was not one of those. Winter is beautiful but can wreak havoc on you and your commercial building. Winter brings freezing temperatures, increased precipitation, and high winds. Alone, those are enough to make us want to stay inside, but what about your roof? The roof is stuck outside and endures the full power of mother nature no matter the climate.

Freeze Thaw Cycle

Winter is a constant cycle of freezing and thawing due to the fluctuations in temperature. Water is able to penetrate the smallest of openings which causes leaks, damage, and potential for worse. When water enters a crack, it can freeze and expand. This will enlarge the opening resulting negatively by creating weak spots in the roof. With the constant freeze thaw cycle, small opening become large and cause leaks, water penetration, and damage to other roof components that need to be dry, like insulation for example. Make sure that your roof is inspected every fall in order to repair any vulnerable spots.

Ponding Water

Ponding water is a big issue for flat roofs and commercial buildings. Proper drainage is important, so water does not sit on your roof. Sitting or ponding water is damaging to roofs because of the freeze thaw cycle. Melted snow can sit under frozen ice and snow, so it will not evaporate or drain. Water that is ponding is far more likely to open seams and cracks which will allow water to penetrate the roofing membrane. Another reason to avoid ponding water is ice dams. They will cause more ponding water which will lead to roof failure, wet insulation, leaks, or worse, a collapse. If your roof is prone to ponding water, make sure to have all drainage areas and problem areas inspected and repaired asap.

High Winds and Cold Temperatures

High winds can be damaging any time of the year which can result in damaged flashings, tears in seams and laps, and removal of any loose roofing materials. All of these will cause roof leaks and moisture to seep into the building. High winds in winter are another beast of their own. Snow drifts and extreme cold temperatures will affect the roof by causing water to freeze quickly and pile snow high making it heavy. Fortunately, keeping your roof clean, drained well, and inspected/repaired regularly keeps these issues to a minimum.

Final Thoughts

Winter can be a beast to fight off especially in the real cold climates. Always be prepared and have a plan for emergencies as well as a regular maintenance schedule. These will alleviate problems with your roof and save you money in the long run. Putting on a new roof is far more expensive than repairing and maintaining your roof for a longer life. If you have any issues, do not wait to get them fixed. Waiting will cause more damage to your roof and will ultimately cause room for more failures and more money. With a regular schedule for maintenance and inspections it will save you time and money…maybe even enough to build a snowman! Who knows!

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