Here in the Northwest we can get some pretty crazy weather and it has been known to catch us all off guard. We wanted to educate you all on ways to help prevent those last minute scares and keep you well prepared for the winter season in the Northwest. When the snow comes it needs to be cleared out of drainage systems. When the melt comes in Western Oregon and Washington it is usually brought on by warm rain and quick melting that can be devastating to your property and the contents in your building.
Drainage is the big issue. The rain drains and gutters need to be clean before the snow comes. We recommended biannual maintenance. One in the spring when things start to dry out. This is when the roof can be assessed for possible damage from the previous winter. You will get plenty of time to fix anything that needs to be done during dry weather. This time is also spent completing a professionally designed solid roof upgrade, which allows you to get more performance and life for less money out of your roof.
The second time would be in the fall after all of the leaves have fallen to prepare the roof for what is to come. When older built up roofs go through freeze-thaw cycles they can get cracks and splits in them. Freezing water will open up marginal roof seams at penetrations and in the field that have not leaked before. Your building and the roof will benefit from a thorough cleaning of the surface and drains. The roof should be inspected by a professional roofing technician while being cleaned. The inspection will help head off some of these problems.
Other areas of concern are the gutters and drains. It is also very important to have gutters clear to avoid overflowing and downspouts from freezing solid. When your gutters are clogged water will pool causing damage from both the expansion of freezing and from rust. The service of clearing the drains and downspouts from debris and the debris on the roof that can wash into the drainage systems before the heavy rains and freeze prevents major damage to the property. It also saves you from needing costly emergency repairs.
Another option to help with winter preparation is to have snow guards installed if you have a metal roof. This helps keep back snow loads from falling on people below.
For flat roofs having deicer put down before a snow or freeze will help keep drains flowing when the snow begins to melt.
When the big snow storms hit it is very difficult to keep up with the accumulation. There is little to be done until the snow begins to melt. It is important to get things taken care of before the winter arrives. In the event of a heavy snow, like several years ago, you should have a snow removal plan. Columbia Roofing and Sheet Metal has a plan for our service crews. We set up our service crews every year with chains for their vehicles, snow shovels, deicer and proper fall protection. They are trained to be safe on the roof and on the ground. They look for areas of snow deposit off the roof. They are ready at a moment’s notice. If the snow load on the roof becomes too heavy you could be in for a real problem; some buildings have collapsed under the stress. Call us if you have any questions, but please think about the weather over the next few months.