1/5/22 8:29 AM 7 min read

Winter Weather Can Ravage a Commercial Roof – 3 Red Flags That Can Spell Roof Damage


It’s that wintery time of year again; furnaces are hard at work as we brace for months of red noses and bulky, cold-weather gear. Yet, as we Clevelanders know, a mere 24 hours in a Northeast Ohio winter can mean a shift from a snowman-building, icy wonderland to a shorts-wearing, spring-like thaw. Our drastic temperature changes and perpetual freeze-melt cycles wreak more havoc on your commercial roof than the weight of ice and snow alone.

‘Tis definitely the season when a commercial or industrial roof is in most need of vigilance. We’ve compiled a short list of typical cold-weather related issues to watch for as the winter stretches on.

1.) Ponding Water

A sudden temperature change can cause snow and ice to melt and water to accumulate on your commercial roof. Ponding water – water that remains on a roof 48 hours or longer – can lead to a number of potential problems, including:

  • The weight of the water could cause the roof to sag and compromise its structural integrity.
  • The melting process and the movement of ice and snow can cause deterioration of the roof surface.
  • Standing water can cause algae and vegetation growth, which can damage the roof membrane.
  • Excess moisture and leaking can corrupt the deck, membrane and insulation, which can affect the roof’s thermal performance and lead to damage to the building’s interior.

2.) Damaged Seams and Flashing

Weather extremes and the resulting expanding and contracting of roofing components can cause weakening of seams and flashing around penetrations, along edges and terminations and throughout your roof. Flashing refers to the metal strips that seal joints and other areas that are most prone to water. Flashing that is damaged or not well-sealed will increase the likelihood of leaks and resulting water damage to roofing components and to the building’s interior.

3.) Clogged or Broken Drains and Gutters

A functioning drainage system in which both internal and external drains are working properly is crucial when your roof is holding excess moisture. However, frequent freezing and thawing can cause cracks and splits in drains, gutters and downspouts, and leaves and other debris that has accumulated on the roof can create clogs. Your drainage system needs to be fully functional throughout the winter to prevent the consequences of ponding water.

Any of these issues can result in expensive repairs to your commercial roof or in a complete roof replacement. Fortunately, you can take steps to mitigate potential damage during the winter season and extend the life of your roof.

How to Protect Your Commercial Roof

While some issues, such as ponding water, are obvious, many require a professional inspection. Your roof may appear sound upon a cursory walkthrough, but that doesn’t mean trouble isn’t brewing.

Regular inspections by a professional roofing contractor can help you to anticipate or prevent costly emergency repairs versus waiting for a harsh winter storm to expose a problem. A professional roofer knows the signs of a weakening roof and can advise you on repairs or renovations that can help see your roof through a Cleveland winter. Furthermore, a maintenance contract that includes routine inspections plus necessary wear-and-tear repairs goes a step further in fortifying your roof system and ensuring that it remains healthy throughout every season of the year.

Roberts Roofing Company can help you prepare your roof for the winter and lessen the stress that accompanies maintaining a commercial building. We perform year-round emergency commercial roof repair following severe storms, fire and other catastrophes as well as comprehensive inspections and maintenance to extend the life of your roof. We serve companies of all sizes and offer a combination of technical expertise, custom solutions and quality workmanship for every project.

To find out more about selecting a commercial or industrial roofing contractor in Cleveland, Ohio, you may call us at (440) 946-2233.