If you’re a business owner in the Houston area, then you know how crazy Texas weather can be. In the summer, temperatures can soar to 130 degrees or higher, but in the winter it’s not uncommon to have freezing winter storms. The recent Houston freeze has reminded many business owners that it’s important to protect one of their largest assets from extreme temperatures. A critical part of that protection is to perform regular roof maintenance.
In many ways, your roof is one of the largest and most expensive parts of your commercial property. It’s location and size mean that it’s also the part of your office, warehouse, or other structure most likely to be affected by changes in the weather. While your foundation has the benefit of being underground where it has some limited protection against temperature swings, your roof is directly impacted by rain, ice, sleet, hail, and snow. There are several ways that harsh weather can affect your roof, and it’s important to be aware of all of them so that you can prepare properly, inspect for damage, and deal with it quickly.
Water damage on a roof is one of the worst and most expensive problems to fix. One of the best ways to prevent water damage is with a gutter system. Before the start of the season, take the time (or instruct your maintenance personnel) to clean out the gutters and make sure that they are free of any debris or obstruction. A functioning gutter system will allow water to flow off the roof properly, eventually flowing away from your building entirely.
If water cannot flow off your roof, it can become trapped. In a short amount of time, even just a small amount of water can encourage the growth of mildew between the shingles and the plywood of the roof. Over a longer time frame, this water will cause enough damage that shingles can become loose, exposing the plywood underneath. Eventually, the water will seep through the plywood, causing leaks in the roof every time it rains.
To prevent this, the most important thing you can do is clean your gutters. Also inspect your roof periodically to look for signs of mildew and mold. If you see this, contact a roofing professional to replace the damaged shingles.
Once temperatures drop below freezing, this becomes a big problem. Even just a few drops of water can collect under small gaps in your shingles, As this water turns to ice, the expansion can cause small cracks in your shingles and further separate the gaps between the shingles and the structure of the roof. Similar things can occur with the roof flashing.
As these gaps expand, they can cause actual tears in the shingles. Once this happens, water can reach the plywood underneath, creating the range of problems that come with water damage. Damaged shingles will also cut down on the insulation that your roof provides to your business, causing your power bills to soar as your heating systems work overtime.
To prevent this, eliminate anything on the roof that is providing shade. Cut down tree branches that are overhanging the roof, allowing as much sunshine as possible to reach the roof and melt ice quickly. More importantly, remove any tree branches and build-ups of leaves and pine needles from the roof itself. This debris will trap water that will freeze into large pieces of ice during a Houston freeze. Large pieces of ice will take a lot longer to melt, and can do a lot of damage to your roof.
After a storm, you may want to consider trying to remove large build-ups of snow. Snow that does not melt within a few hours can encourage the formation of ice. Large amounts of snow are actually extremely heavy, and in some cases can cause structural damage to a roof. Removing large amount of snow, however, can be very dangerous for someone who is not properly trained. The roof itself will likely be icy and slippery. Trying to remove the snow by knocking it off from the ground with a stick can result in an avalanche of snow. Many worker’s comp policies do not cover employees doing this type of work unless they have been trained. Therefore, seriously consider hiring a professional roofing company to do this for you.
Finally, every business owner in Texas needs to ensure that his or her roof is protected against wind damage. While many people tend to think of winter storms as just bringing a lot of snow, but they can also bring high winds. Just like hurricane winds, this weather can throw debris onto roofs and even knock off shingles.
To prevent wind damage, have your roof inspected regularly, and consider having your shingles upgraded to a type that is more wind resistant. This can be a big investment, but many property insurance companies offer a discount for businesses that are less likely to suffer from wind damage.
Immediately after a storm, remove any debris that has blown on to the roof and inspect it for damage. If there are missing shingles or other signs of damage, have them replaced as soon as possible,
Making good preparations for another Texas power outage, bad storm, or hurricane is the best way to ensure that you won’t have to deal with a large surprise repair bill in the future. Adding just some of these suggestions to your regular maintenance routine can ensure smaller upfront repair costs, and in some cases lower insurance premiums and higher property values.
As soon as you see any indication of damage, have a professional come out to immediately inspect your roof. Repairs need to be made as quickly as possible to any damaged shingles, flashing, awnings, or gutters to ensure that damage cannot continue to spread. The faster a small portion of damage is dealt with, the less likely it will be that you will have to deal with large repair bills later down the line.