Is It Too Late for a Pre-Winter Roof Inspection?

The 2011 winter solstice is almost upon us. Winter officially arrives on December 22, marking the shortest day and longest night of the year. What does that mean for your roof assets?

Normally, we highly recommend that every commercial and industrial roof should be inspected prior to the onset of winter. Once the seasonal deep freeze sets in, it’s much more difficult for roofing professionals to get on roofs, to properly assess their condition, and to perform remedial work.

But what if you’ve been so busy that you simply haven’t had a chance to schedule your pre-winter roof inspection. Is it too late?

As long as there’s no snow on your roof, it’s not too late to make sure your roof assets are ready to handle the ravages of Old Man Winter. Depending on what the weather’s been like recently in your area, you may be able to sneak in a pre-winter roof inspection. Generally, as long as your roof is clear of snow, a professional roof consultant will be able to offer a very good assessment of their condition.

Roof audit tools like infrared cameras can be more difficult to use when the mercury dips, but a sunny day – even in December – can offer us the opportunity to get a reasonably accurate infrared scan of your roofs. As a matter of fact, we very recently took advantage of a sunny day in Ontario to scan a building for a client with some roofing concerns.

Why Inspect Your Roofs Before Winter?

Freeze-Thaw Cycle: Think about what the freeze-thaw cycle does to the roadways where you live during the winter. Water can enter any tiny crevice, expand it when it freezes and then leave an even larger crack when it thaws. The same thing can happen on your roof. A small void, open seam, or weakened area of membrane can literally be torn open, allowing water infiltration once the ice thaws. All may seem well while temperatures are below freezing, but sudden warming temperatures will tell the truth about your roof’s resilience.

Fall Clean-Up: The vagaries of the freeze-thaw cycle can be compounded by the presence of fall debris. Leaves from trees and surrounding vegetation that fall to the ground frequently clog roof drains, scuppers, downspouts and eaves troughs.  If water cannot properly drain, large ice buildups begin, raising the possibility of structural overload, overwhelming of flashing heights, and the associated damage potential that comes with these situations.

A pre-winter roof inspection can identify potential problem areas before they cause more extensive – and expensive – damage to your building and its contents. Preventive maintenance is always cheaper than reactive damage control and a pre-winter inspection is a very cost-effective component of your roof management plan.

What If Your Roof Is Less Than 5 Years Old?

Roofs begin to degrade and wear from the moment they are installed. The sun’s UV rays, wind, rain, snow and ice are constantly attacking the membrane that you rely on to protect all of your company’s employees  and assets. Regular roof inspections should start immediately in order to achieve the longest possible life for your roof assets. We recommend roof inspections at least twice a year (spring and fall) to assess the wear and tear on your roof systems and nip potential problems in the bud.

Your roof assets should also be assessed following any major weather event, especially those involving high winds, lightning, excessive rainfall, ice or snow storms. Even a brand new roof can be compromised by the elements at any time. Identifying potential problems as soon as possible is the key to making sure they don’t intensify, shortening the life cycle of your roof system and causing an unnecessary expenditure of time and money.

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