You’ve probably heard it said before, “Prevention is the best solution.” This is especially true when it comes to commercial flat roofs and Minnesota’s snowy winter months. Commercial flat roofs are generally constructed to withstand quite a bit of snow, but sudden blizzards and extreme amounts of ice can cause damage to the building.
In the Minneapolis area, the weather at this time of year can be very unpredictable. Some days are quite sunny and warm enough to start melting the many inches of snow and ice, but as the sun goes down in the evening, so does the temperature, freezing everything that began to thaw. As commercial building owners know, this is where roof problems can set in for flat-roofed buildings. However, there are ways to protect your building from major roofing repairs, and they lie primarily in prevention.
The most common winter problem for industrial flat-roofed buildings is the same as for residential roofs: ice damming. When snow accumulates on a roof and warm air from inside rises toward the attic or upper story, the snow melts and drains toward the gutters and low eaves where it refreezes, creating a dam. As the ice dams become larger, they can trap moisture on the roof, leading to expensive roof repairs and gutter damage.
While there is no way to prevent ice damming altogether, there are a couple things that can be done to reduce its formation:
- First of all it is important that the facility has proper ventilation and insulation under the roof. Adequate ventilation will allow for cool air to flow efficiently, while proper insulation will prevent warm air from reaching the roof, which is where the “melt and refreeze” process begins.
- Secondly, it is recommended to have all gutter systems cleaned and inspected twice a year. Gutters that are full of leaves and other debris don’t drain properly, making water damage more likely. With all that buildup removed, your gutters will be better able to handle the melting snow rather than letting it pool up.
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