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December 14, 2023
Now that winter is upon us, it’s time to get prepared. In the past year, we’ve experienced devastating weather conditions across America. Regardless of whether you’re in a vulnerable territory or not, any severe weather event could be catastrophic to your building envelope. So, this is a perfect time to schedule a detailed roof inspection with a professional roofing contractor to ensure that your roof is adequately prepared for the next storm, hurricane, or the winter season.

Remove Roof Debris

It’s always a good idea to look around the outside of your commercial building for anything that could potentially damage the roof in high winds. Have your maintenance department trim tree branches that are hanging over the roof. Once on the roof, clear any debris that has fallen including branches, leaves, dirt, or anything left on the roof, and have your contractor inspect the roof for potential damage by the debris. If a storm is imminent, and you happen to be having roofing work done, it is probably a good idea to ask the contractor to remove unused roofing materials and equipment and secure them for the storm. Your goal is to leave the roof as clean and free of debris as possible, to minimize potential damage, so to ensure that water can flow uninterrupted to the drains or scuppers.

Inspect Drains & Clear Blockages

Hurricanes, tornadoes, and thunderstorms can all include significant amounts of rainfall—and sometimes in a very short period of time. As such, it’s critical that the roof drains are flowing properly and at full capacity to get water—and excess weight—off the roof.

Your contractor will likely check a variety of things on the roof, starting with the drains and clearing any debris or blockage from around the outside of the drainpipe. In addition, all drain strainer domes should be removed to view that the drain leader/pipe is also free and clear of debris. Sometimes, small sticks and leaves get stuck in the drainpipe and prevent or slow the drain. In the worst cases, this can cause a backup of water on the roof.

Your contractor should also clear any blockages in the drain leader. It could also be a good time to consider replacing damaged drains or strainer domes with an upgraded vortex breaker strainer that can provide up to 2.5 times greater water flow. This will help to reduce the excess water that comes from torrential rain and move it off the roof, protecting the roof system and the entire building envelope. Next, have your contractor check and clear all gutters, downspouts, and scuppers to ensure that water flows properly through them, and off the roof.

Secure Rooftop Pipes

This is also a great time to make sure that any rooftop pipes or conduit carrying water, industrial liquids, gas, or electrical lines are firmly secured in place and protected from potential movement. When rooftop pipes move, not only can it impact the equipment they are connected to, but it can also damage the pipes themselves, as well as the roofing cover, exposing the building to potential leaks. PipeGuard units are available in several sizes and can be installed in less than three seconds. Since they do not require additional materials or tools, these units can be quickly and easily installed right before a severe storm.

Have a Plan Ready

As you would at home with your family, it is important to have a preventative maintenance plan in place for your commercial roof. At the bare minimum, plan a roof inspection before each season or to help you survive a terrible storm. In addition, establishing a regular schedule of roof drain inspections by a professional can not only help when several inches of rain fall in one day, but also throughout a rainy season. The earlier your roofer identifies an issue, the sooner it can be corrected.