Connecting the Top 4 Ways to Understand, Identify, Prevent, and Fix Freeze-Thaw Damage

Connecting the Top 4 Ways to Understand, Identify, Prevent, and Fix Freeze-Thaw Damage

Connecting the Top 4 Ways to Understand, Identify, Prevent, and Fix Freeze-Thaw Damage 675 573 PB Roofing PB Roofing

Your commercial roof acts as a barrier, protecting your commercial building and those within it from the elements. Roofs in locations that experience severe weather are manufactured to withstand the elements for 10 to more than 20 years. Extreme conditions can cause a lot of damage, especially if the roof hasn’t been properly maintained and ready for the approaching winter weather.

A worn roof becomes an infrastructure hazard when winter makes its annual appearance. Fortunately, there is a 4 x 4 series of proactive steps to be taken, we’ll connect these best practices and strategies to conquer your commercial roofing winter worries this year.

4 Ways to Understand

  1. Knowing freeze-thaw cycles means knowing thermal expansion. The potential for problems from expansion and contraction exists from the time the roof is first installed. “Thermal expansion is the tendency of matter to change in volume in response to temperature alterations.” (Science Direct). When the roof absorbs heat from the sun, the materials can expand, pushing against its own seams, and causing gaps. This process then reverses during lower night temperatures.
  2. Thermal expansion causes water to seep into tiny cracks in your roof and freeze. Expanding water puts pressure on the surrounding material, causing the cracks to grow. Since this freeze-thaw cycle occurs daily, the damage can be serious. is the same issue that causes potholes to form in your parking lot. Additionally, the cycle can strain and damage your HVAC and electrical systems if left unchecked.
  3. We sometimes have those warmer days in the middle of winter when we can lighten our layers and snow begins to melt. It’s this type of fluctuation that really shocks your roof system because the temperatures will inevitably drop again. When winter temperatures frequently hover around the freezing point, the freeze-thaw process of expansion and contraction occurs like clockwork. An older roof membrane is not nearly as flexible and cannot perform under extreme conditions and drastic temperature changes.
  4. The most vulnerable points of a roof will always be the details, these naturally carry more strain as the roof expands and contracts. Any small defects caused by natural aging can be magnified. Though all roofs go through wear and tear, if left untreated, the effects of the freeze-thaw cycle could leave you with unforeseen repairs.

4 Ways to Identify

  1. Leaks: Small problems can quickly become big problems. Leaks can begin from a range of small hairline cracks to larger, more obvious fractures. Notice discoloration on your roof? Smell any musty odors or spot mold? These are signs you have a leak somewhere or at least some existing water damage.
  2. Ice Dams: Ice dams happen when the heating on your commercial roof is not uniform or when the freeze-thaw cycle happens with greater frequency. In these instances, snow melts and runs down the roof drainage system as water. The water then gets stuck and causes damage when it freezes again.
  3. Blistering: Freeze-thaw cycles can cause trapped moisture within the roof layers, leading to blistering or bubbling on the roof surface. These bubbles may appear soft and easily break when pressed, exposing the underlying layers of the roof.
  4. Increased Heating Costs: Damaged flat roofs can lead to poor insulation, resulting in increased heating or cooling costs. If you notice a sudden spike in energy bills, it may be a sign that your flat roof has been compromised by freeze-thaw damage.

4 Ways to Prevent

  1. Insulation: Adequate insulation is key to preventing heat loss and uneven warming of the roof. Insulating the roof can help maintain a consistent temperature and minimize the potential for freeze-thaw cycles.
  2. Drainage: A clear, unobstructed path prevents the blockages that could likely result in hazardous ice dams and the gradual separation of flashing used to seal and protect the areas around chimneys, vents, and other roof projections.
  3. Inspections: Schedule inspections at least twice a year, before and after the winter season. Look for signs of cracks, pooling water, or blistering, and promptly address any areas of concern.
  4. Rooftop Snow Removal: Clearing snow and ice from your flat roof is essential to prevent excess weight. A single inch of wet snow equals 1.66 pounds per square foot. (FacilityExecutive). Plus, freeze-thaw damage adversely affects the roof’s overall tensile strength, which is greatly reduced after repeated expansions and contractions.

4 Ways to Fix

  1. Patching & Sealing: If there are cracks or fractures on the roof surface, they can be repaired using patching materials designed specifically for flat roofs. These materials help to fill and seal the damaged areas, preventing water from seeping in and causing further damage.
  2. Reinforcement: In some cases, freeze-thaw damage may have weakened certain sections of the roof. To reinforce these areas, additional layers of roofing materials can be applied. This helps to strengthen the roof and prevent future damage.
  3. Replacement: If the freeze-thaw damage is extensive, it may be necessary to replace damaged roofing materials altogether. This can include replacing sections of asphalt or tar-based roofing, as well as any insulation or underlayment that may have been affected.
  4. Regular Maintenance: To prevent future freeze-thaw damage, it’s key to maintain the roof properly. This includes regular inspections, cleaning of gutters and downspouts, and clearing of snow and ice. By staying on top of maintenance, you can catch and address any issues before they escalate.

PB Roofing’s THREATCheck

Having a great maintenance plan usually goes right along with regular inspections. A professional roofing inspection along with a thorough maintenance plan means that your roof will always be performing at its best. And this may add some years to the lifespan of your roof, saving you quite a bit of money.

Our THREATCheck is for new customers: one enhanced visual inspection to identify deficiencies and provide recommendations for repairs or replacement. Our Plus Package features the same, with a bi-annual inspection plan. Photo report included.



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