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Protect Your Roof From Storm Damage

Digested From “Protect Your Roof From Storm Damage”
Buildings (01/24/14) Curtland, Christopher

There are a number of things apartment owners and managers can do to help their roofs endure during the winter months. Professional Roof Consultants (PRC) President Steven L. McBride states, "The best way to prepare is to maintain." First, check all exterior walls for leaks, stains, and cracks in brick and missing mortar. Those openings must be sealed in order to make the building weather-tight. Next, check ceilings and interior walls for signs of leaks and staining. When a rooftop becomes covered with snow and ice, it is near impossible to find leaks. Third, check expansion joints for signs of excessive movement and splits, thin sections of membrane, and deteriorated caulking. Cold temperatures can have a dire effect on loose mortar and composite building materials. In addition, check all penetrations on the roof, like pitch pockets and vent pipes for deterioration and voids. Then, check and clear all gutters, downspouts, and scuppers. A sixth tip is to check the field of the roof membrane and redistribute all ballasts across any bare spots. Seven, remove all loose debris from a rooftop's surface. Finally, keep in mind that only trained roof technicians should remove snow from a building's rooftop as they are specially trained in how not to damage the roof surface. 

Even extreme cold without precipitation poses threats  to rooftops. One of PRC's clients neglected to inspect their roof following a stretch of severe cold and didn't realize the roof had contracted to the point of cracking. "When the cold weather went away, it started raining, and water just poured in," McBride laments. "The roof was split wide open like the Grand Canyon." Wind is another factor. According to McBride, roof damage caused by wind occurs when air pressure below the roof assembly is greater than air pressure above the roof. As wind blows over the structure, the pressure above the surface decreases, while simultaneously internal air pressure increases because of air infiltration. The result is a net upward force on the roofing system, resulting in the "blowing off" phenomenon.

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