From snow to ice: A guide to detecting commercial roof winter weather leaks

As roofing experts, we don’t recommend that you wait to check for winter commercial roof leaks. Snow or ice can build up on your roof and reveal leaks. Then, as temperatures warm up, it will melt and cause more damage. The weight of the water could cause damage to the roof as well as the entire building. With routine inspections and regular professional roof maintenance, damage from winter weather is preventable. 

What experts say about snow and commercial roofs 

Quality commercial roofs are designed to protect your business’s building against damage from the weather. As we know, Oklahoma’s weather is unpredictable. If there are pre-existing problems with a roof or unexpected storms, damage can occur and cause issues when winter weather strikes.  

Several factors play a role in the effects of winter precipitation on a commercial building.  

  • Roof age – Roofs degrade over time and become more susceptible to water penetration from snow or ice. This can lead to roof leaks and noticeable damage in the building. 
  • Roof shape – Most commercial buildings have a flat roof shape. Flat roofs do not drain as well as sloped roofs. This can cause snow or ice to build up and add weight to the roof. If a flat roof is not well maintained, the weight from the precipitation will worsen and weaken the roof. If the damage is bad enough, the roof may give under the weight.  
  • Accumulation –. Heavy snow or ice could even cause a roof collapse. The more precipitation that falls, the more weight that is added to the roof. The integrity of the roof determines whether it will withstand the amount of snow or ice. Even if a roof is designed to withstand a foot or two of snow, it may not be sturdy enough for unprecedented weather events. 

While we don’t typically get a lot of snow in our region of Oklahoma, ice storms can be equally as damaging. With this in mind, remember these two primary areas of concern for roofing systems. These factors will determine why you shouldn’t use winter precipitation as a leak detector. 

  • Snow or ice weight – Depending on how many inches fall during a specific window of time, the accumulation of winter precipitation can add weight to the roof. This added pressure may force water and moisture underneath the roof, leading to trapped moisture and increased risks of leaks occurring. Both situations will generally lead to expensive and time-consuming fixes.  
  • Ice dams – Another common winter occurrence, ice build-up poses another threat to your commercial roof. Ice dams occur when ice builds up in your gutters and blocks water from draining. This creates the potential for leaks, water damage and a sagging roof.  
  • Temperature cycle – Snow or ice will melt during the day and when temperatures drop overnight, it will refreeze. Water expands when it freezes. The cycle of thawing and freezing will cause the roofing materials to expand and contract. This allows moisture into the seams and cracks which can lead to costly interior leaks.  

Damage caused by snow or ice can be prevented when working with a trustworthy roofing company. They will perform an inspection and create a maintenance plan with the business owner to ensure their business’s roof can withstand the winter weather.  

Preparing a commercial roof before snow and ice cause leaks 

 Being proactive is the best way to protect your commercial roof against winter weather. Preventive measures will ensure there isn’t any pre-existing damage to the roof that leaves it susceptible to damage. Compared to the cost of repairs from snow and ice damage, prevention techniques are relatively inexpensive.  

Some of the best steps toward prevention of winter issues for your commercial building’s roof include: 

  • Choosing a trustworthy roofing company – To ensure quality work and recommendations, business owners should work with a respected roofing company. If you’re in the Tulsa area, Turner Roofing has been in business for over fifty years and our average employee has over seventeen years of experience.  
  • Getting a roof inspection – Most roofing companies will offer inspection packages for commercial roofs. Our ten-point inspections are free and include a report with photographs, a detailed written assessment, cost-effective solutions and a repair estimate for insurance claims.  
  • Considering added seasonal inspections – If you live in a climate like Oklahoma’s, where temperatures vary greatly by season, seasonal inspections are a proactive way of protecting your business’s roof. Every season brings its own threats to the integrity of your roof. Repairing all damage from the previous seasons will safeguard your commercial roof from the snow, rain or ice that comes in the winter.  
  • Signing up for a maintenance plan – Some roofing companies offer a commercial roofing maintenance plan. With a maintenance plan, the roofing company will routinely remove debris and inspect a business’s roof for wear and tear. Importantly, this removes the stress and maintenance of reactive repairs and preserves the integrity of a commercial roof and building.  

From storms to snow, roof damage can occur or cause existing damage to worsen, including leaks. When choosing a roofing company to work with, it’s important to find one that will work with you year-round. That way, your business’s roof is prepared to handle the elements at all times.  

Turner Roofing works with commercial clients to come up with roofing solutions that benefit you for years to come. From inspections to maintenance and repairs, we will handle all your commercial roofing needs. Contact us today to get started and schedule your free inspection.