Can You Repair a Flat Roof in the Winter?

Ice Snow and Water Damage on Commercial Flat Roof

Flat roofs offer numerous advantages to commercial properties. Unfortunately, even architects have misconceptions about flat roofing, incorrectly believing these roof types equate to problems. Only with the subfreezing temps of winter weather can obstacles to certain kinds of roof repair occur.

Commercial property owners favor flat roofs primarily because of their overall cost-effectiveness. Materials and labor are far more economical, and the low-risk installation is quick. Due to having fewer complications, over its lifespan, the flat roof is cheaper to maintain.

Down the road, when a flat roof needs to be replaced, reinstallation can be done swiftly, often within one day. Maintenance is also easy, as roof inspectors can perform inspections safely and routinely. Cleaning gutters and patching holes are accomplished with the least risk of fall-related injuries.

What causes winter roof leaks?Water Damaged Commercial Roof

When the winter season arrives, however, a flat roof must withstand a whole new set of environmental challenges. Roof leaks are notorious for occurring only in winter. In spring and summer, a flat roof usually remains dry and intact, despite heavy rains and thunderstorms.

Winter roof leaks are caused by any number of possible causes. Ice dams are a well-known source of roof leaks. Ridges of ice that form at the edge of the roof block the flow of water. Trapped water leaks into small holes in the roof and into the interior building.

Water infiltration can happen when a roof has faulty seams. Roof seams are located between rolls of membrane or between panels. As temperatures rise in the aftermath of heavy snowfalls, the rapidly melting runoff can penetrate the seams and allow moisture leaks inside the property.

Roof membranes are susceptible to cracking, especially on older rooftops. Though roof membranes typically maintain a watertight seal the rest of the year, winter’s repeated cycles of freezing and thawing can eventually stress roof membranes. Cracks in the membranes allow water to infiltrate.

The lateral movement of drifting snow makes flashing vulnerable. The blowing snow has the opportunity to enter the flashing and melt, which leads to a roof leak. Leaks that penetrate the flashing only during the winter season are likely in even newly and well-built roofs.

Evidently, winter weather is harsh on flat rooftops, making building owners question whether the roof can be repaired in the midst of snowfalls and slippery ice. As soon as roof issues arise, even in the dead of winter, a property owner will want to immediately fix it.

Icy conditions will delay a roof repair. Building owners will have to wait until the snow and ice melt before any roof work can commence. Roofing crews need to be able to fully access the roof, and hazardous winter conditions do not make physical work possible.

What are short-term winter fixes?TPO-Roofing

During the height of winter, building owners may want to attempt repairs from the inside; but this is an impractical maneuver. A temporary solution is to cover the roof with tarp—do not block venting pipes that exhaust gases—and wait for the spring thaw to start repairs.

As soon as the snow melts, a property owner can initiate any of the following flat roof repair solutions. Temporary rubber patches are ideal for preventing leaks through weak areas of the roof surface until more enduring fixes can begin in warmer weather.

When faulty seams are the source for the water infiltration, apply a cold weather sealant along those areas. Cold weather sealant is specially formulated for winter temperatures. The sealant bonds in cold weather, which helps keep the building dry for the rest of the season.

Drains blocked by debris should be cleared to facilitate the flow of snowmelt off the roof and prevent the formation of ice dams. Poor drainage is a common cause of ice dams. Roof repair companies are able to perform a drainage inspection and clearance in under a day.

In instances of extreme damage to the roof due to the hazards of winter conditions, a full roof replacement may need to be done. Professional roofing contractors have the resources to tear off the roof and replace it during the winter months.

Temporary repairs made during days of moderate temperatures are the answer to winter roof problems. Short-term fixes that include manual snow removal or using temporary materials will get building owners through until spring, when weather conditions allow for long-term solutions.

Why is a winter roof repair difficult?

Several feet of snow on a flat roof can make pinpointing the location of the roof leak a momentous job. Even fixing one slow-dripping leak can take several hours of a roofing contractor’s time, and it is mainly due to removing the mountains of snow from the flat roof.

Subsequent to the snow removal, the rooftop needs to be adequately dry in order to apply roof repair materials. Plus, a winter leak will be considerably more expensive to repair than the same leak in summer, when the identification and repair of the leak location are more straightforward.

Contact a Roofing Contractorreliable roofing repair man

Preventing a disastrous roof leak in the midst of winter is as easy as maintaining the flat roof before the wintry season starts. But when unanticipated roof leaks erupt, consult the most reputable commercial roofing contractor in the area, Reliable Roofing.

Reliable Roofing’s skilled crews are experts in a wide range of flat roof repair services. Our roofing specialists apply new roof coatings, seal all leaks, perform simple roof maintenance and repairs, clean the roof, and replace damaged roof materials with high-quality ones.

Any type of roof damage warrants immediate attention from professionals at Reliable Roofing. Minor roof damage can worsen or cause a leak, leading to the ruin of valuable inventory inside the commercial property. Structural damage to walls and ceilings can also occur.

Contact Us

Countless businesses located in the surrounding areas of Lake Zurich, Illinois, trust Reliable Roofing for our professionalism and commercial roofing experience. We are available to perform roof maintenance services before winter to prevent untimely leaks.

Give us a call for a free estimate at (815) 981-9898.