• Chris Dowler, FMP

WINTER ROOF MAINTENANCE Securing Your Assets Before Old Man Winter Blows In

This is for those of you in northern climates who deal with snow and ice storms. I’m not even going to pretend that you have a systemized maintenance program for your roofs. But, it isn’t too late to prep your roofs for this winter’s weather. We’ll talk about that maintenance program later.

Before going up on the roof:

Inspect the perimeter and look for water stains on the fascia / cornice and note the area for

investigation when on the roof.

Look for mud splatter at drip line and note the area for investigation when on the roof.

Look for potential areas of snow sheeting or large icicle formation – remember those areas you had to tape off last winter?

Catch basins into which roof drains empty need to be cleaned out, especially if debris has built up to the level of the outfall pipe. During freezing weather, the pipe opening can freeze shut and cause water to back up into the building.

Push up ceiling tiles on the top floor and look for water damaged sheathing on the underside of the roof deck – unfortunately water usually is visible at sheathing joints which is not always where the leak is located. But it does inform you that a leak is active.

Now get up on the roof.

I'm not going to tell you how to get on your roof safely - just make sure you do it.

Look for safety issues. Is access secured? Are skylights clearly marked? Are open shafts secured? Are walkway pads secured? Are protective pads under blocking? Are snow guards installed?

roof ponding

Ensure roof properly drains. Look for any ponding; ensure roof drain strainer openings are clear; ensure scupper openings are clear; ensure gutters are cleaned.

Check flashings, copings, and expansion joint covers. Everything secure? Sealants still pliable? Any cracks? Collars clamps on roof jacks secured? Pitch boxes solid?

expansion joint cover

Walk the field – all of it. Look for overhanging branches needing to be cut back; remove all debris; remove moss which is present (this isn’t a vegetated roof!); look for cracks / tears in roofing; look for missing pieces of roofing.

□ Pay special attention to those areas you identified at the ground or above the ceiling to ascertain from where the problems may be originating.

What to do next.

Engage a reputable roofing contractor who specializes in the type of roofing specific to your building to make the needed repairs.

roof inspection

Communicate with that same contractor to discuss snow removal in extraordinary snow / ice events. You, getting up there with your bent metal snow shovel “to save money” is going to invariably lead to expensive, emergency repairs when you rip through the roofing.

Why am I doing this again?

roof leak

Calculate the cost of a leak. How much can you afford business interruption? or, aggravated tenants? or, loss of inventory? or, employee disruption? or, loss of productivity?

Repair premium. You will pay a premium to have emergency repairs made. Mitigate that event by being pro-active.

Back to that systemized roof maintenance program…

Contact us to develop a comprehensive roof maintenance program designed specifically for your roof types. Such a program will prolong the life of your roof, minimize repairs, and reduce your capital expenses.


Chris Dowler, FMP

Founder and Owner

Dowler Construction Services

a strategic facility solutions firm

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