Is Your Commercial Roof Safe for Winter?

Winter might include the most wonderful time of the year. But it’s also the most important time of the year for your commercial roof. In this post, we’ll outline how to ensure your commercial roof is safe for winter, starting with the challenges posed in the colder months….

Winter challenges for commercial roofs

It goes without saying that weather is the main thing that makes winter so tricky for commercial roofs. They’re the umbrella to your business or tenants, shielding them from the elements all year round. In winter, that means more rain, higher winds, and even snow, hail and ice.

Roofs can sometimes get through most of the year with little flaws and faults going unnoticed. But not in winter. Even the smallest crack, tear or missing component will be exposed:

  • Heavy rain will make its way through
  • High wind can lift any loose parts
  • Water can freeze in small cracks – expanding when it becomes ice to make defects bigger
  • Heavy snow, albeit rare, can add extra weight and pressure on your roof, which could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back if it’s not in a good condition

More time away over Christmas

But weather isn’t the only quirk offered up at the end of the year. There’s a reason Christmas is known as the holiday season – most commercial sites have a bit more downtime over the festive period.

Whether that’s a two-week break or a couple of bank holidays, it’s an extra opportunity for a leak to break out while nobody’s there. Undetected leaks can be even more problematic for your commercial site because the weather has more time to cause further damage.

As above, wind, rain and ice can worsen existing roofing problems. When water gets in, it can also cause structural damage to wooden fixtures or even interfere with electrics. There’s also the visual damp on walls and ceilings, plus the potential for mould to develop.

Let’s face it. There’s not much worse than coming back after the Christmas break to find a leak has been wreaking havoc on your commercial property. The result is an unsafe working environment, disruption for your business or your tenants, and more cost for you with emergency repairs.

Is your commercial roof safe?

You don’t want to be worrying about leaks while you’re tucking into your Christmas dinner. Or feeling anxious whenever the heavens open – which is pretty often in winter. To give yourself peace of mind, the best course of action is to ensure your roof is winter-ready before leaks cause safety problems.

Performing an initial assessment

The first thing you can do is inspect your roof yourself. No, we don’t mean getting up there and putting yourself at risk. Instead, you can look up from ground level outside, checking for:

  • Loose, cracked or missing tiles
  • Loose or damaged flashing
  • Any irregularities with ridges or valleys

Of course, we understand that lots of commercial roofing is flat – where the pitch is less than 10 degrees. As such, you can’t see it from outside unless you’re up there, and many of the features above won’t be relevant.

Some flat commercial roofs are safely accessible. You can usually tell which roofs are designed for walking on as they have a short wall or safety barriers around the edge. If that’s the case, you can look for any damage on the roof such as cracks or tears in the roofing material and damaged flashing around protrusions.

If it’s not safe to access the roof, your best bet is to check from the inside. Head up to the top floor of the building and look for any signs of leaks or water ingress around the ceiling and top of walls. If you spot anything at all, you can contact a roofer to get it fixed.

Getting a professional opinion

As you can imagine, the checks above are far from exhaustive – especially if you have no way of actually assessing your roof’s condition from the outside. They’re a good first step so you can point roofers in the right direction, but even if everything seems fine, it’s worth getting a professional opinion.

Because they’re fully trained to work safely at height, professional roofers can access your flat or pitched roof without any issues. That alone allows them to undertake a more in-depth inspection of every component on your roof. Crucially, they also have the training and experience to spot anything awry and identify the underlying cause.

This is the most the critical step in preparing your roof for winter – a professional roof inspection is recommended at least once a year for commercial properties. Roofers can then advise you on the best course of action for your roof with a quote for any necessary maintenance work.

Don’t forget your gutters

While we’ve talked about the main structure of your roof, it’s important to note the role that guttering plays for commercial buildings. As water runs off your roof, gutters guide it safely away from the building and down the drainpipes. In doing so, they stop excessive amounts of rainwater getting to your walls and foundations.

When preparing your commercial roof for winter, it’s a good idea to check the condition and function of your gutters – as well as asking a professional to do so. All too often, gutters become blocked by leaves and other debris through autumn, which leads to overflows, excess weight and sagging or cracks.

Over time, water running down your walls or pooling at the bottom of your commercial property can lead to damp and structural issues. To avoid this, you should have them repaired and cleared before or during winter to make sure they’re ready for the worst weather.

Keep your commercial roof safe this winter

A watertight roof is essential if you want to maintain a safe working environment through winter. DPR Roofing provides commercial roofing and guttering services in Wakefield to keep your property protected from the elements.

To arrange a quote or talk more about your requirements, simply call us on 01924 255 677 or email [email protected].