CBRE | FacilitySource provides an innovative, technology-driven, single-source facility management and support solution to leading brands across North America. CBRE | FacilitySource maintains the industry’s largest and most reliable data repository to provide business intelligence, transparency, flexibility, support and the Elite Network of Service Providers to save clients’ money and get the most out of their facilities while offering peace of mind. Established in 2005, FacilitySource was acquired in 2018 by CBRE Group, Inc., the largest commercial real estate services and investment firm in the world. For more information, visit https://facilitysource.com.
In commercial facilities, it’s important that facility managers understand common roof problems that come in winter. In areas of the country that experience cold weather and ice, it’s extremely important to prepare a roof properly so that it can handle the elements.
For this article, three Trade Specialists from CBRE | FacilitySource, Kevin Gire, Toni Shutts, and Jennifer Asbury, were asked questions regarding winterizing roofs for commercial facilities. Trade Specialists act as subject matter experts for their specific trade role. They are primarily responsible for the review of relevant trade related repair and replacement proposals.
You can read their insights to winterizing roofs below:
You can read their insights to winterizing roofs below:
What are the most common commercial roof problems that occur in winter?
Toni: As Trade Specialists, we get a lot of calls about roofing maintenance requests during the winter, especially in the states that experience a lot of snow fall and icy conditions throughout the season. The most common roof problems we see receive calls about in the winter include:
- Roof leaks
- Wood rot
- Ice Dams
- Bent gutters
Snow and icy conditions can take a big toll on commercial roofs. That’s why it’s important for facility managers to winterize their roofs. By winterizing roofs, many common roof problems that occur during winter can be avoided.
What is the first step in winterizing roofs?
Jennifer: The first thing facility managers should do before winter is to do a visual survey of the roof. They should evaluate:
- The overall condition of the roof
- Skylight curbs
- HVAC curbs
- Any other systems that are on the roof
Pretty much if a facility has a roofing problem, it should get fixed before winter. Having a professional service provider perform roof inspections is the best option for a facility.
You mentioned doing a visual survey of other systems on the roof. How does the winterization of roofs tie into other kinds of winterization maintenance?
Kevin: With commercial buildings, there are typically many systems that come together on the roof. There can be vent stacks, HVAC equipment, plumbing, and many more systems found on the roof. Before winter hits, it’s important that all of these systems are sealed properly to prepare them for the snow and cold.
Toni: You should also make sure to pay attention to the condensation lines off of roof top units. Condensation lines from HVAC units or refrigeration units need to be checked when doing a roof inspection. Facility managers need to make sure the condensation lines on the units have a clear disposal path so the liquid is pitched properly. In parts of the country that does get cold, it’s important to ensure the condensation lines are not draining on the roof, as that can cause problems when the liquid freezes. However, it’s a common practice in southern states to let condensation lines drain onto the roof because that condensation typically evaporates.
Could snow have any detrimental effects on flat roofs?
Jennifer: Definitely. With flat roofs, you have to keep an eye out on the amount of snow has fallen. If there is too much weight on a roof, that can cause major issues such as leaks or even a possible collapse.
For many of our New England clients, we see many issues when it snows. It’s really important that a professional service provider is dispatched when snow does accumulate on a flat roof. It’s not a great idea for a store manager to go up there in attempt to shovel snow themselves because incorrect tools can puncture a roof. I’ve seen instances where a store manager will try to use a regular gardening shovel to attempt to remove the snow and end up damaging the roof. Professional service providers typically use a tool that is not sharp to remove snow from a flat roof, such as a roof rake.
What part of the roofing system is the most volatile during the winter?
Kevin: The one thing that really damages easily on roofs due are gutters. Gutters aren’t meant to hold heavy weight, so if there is a lot of snow and or ice accumulation on a gutter, that can cause issues. If too much weight or pressure is put on a gutter, they have the potential to bend and be pulled away from the facia board. A damaged gutter can lead to water being directed to somewhere you don’t want it to go. I’ve seen some situations where water got around the foundation line of a facility and damaged the foundation.
Jennifer: Following up on Kevin’s comment on gutters: if water gets into a foundation, that can lead to big problems. Concrete is supposed to contract; it expands in the warmer weather and gets tighter in the winter. If you do get water in a facility’s foundation during cold weather, this can cause foundational issues and even flooding. It’s always interesting to think about how one maintenance problem in a facility can have such a large impact on other parts of a building.
Conclusion: Winterizing roofs can help prevent roof problems
Commercial roofing is an important part of a facility; it provides adequate shelter and houses many other systems such as HVAC, plumbing, and refrigeration. For facilities that are in areas that do experience snow in the winter, it’s important that facility managers follow proper steps in order to prevent roof problems caused by snow.
About CBRE | FacilitySource