Why You Need to Prepare Your Flat Roof for Winter

New England winter is not the friend of a roof. Average snowfall in Eastern Massachusetts is 40 to 50 inches of snow! We all experienced it last winter, week after week the North Atlantic Ocean sent us storm after storm piling the snow endlessly higher and higher. As the snow piles up so do the potential problems your roof begins to face from the New England winter. 


 Why Snow is a Problem for Your Flat Roof

Snow on a flat rubber roof will go through a melting process that will eventually lead to a snow free roof upon the arrival of spring. We all love that time. The problems your roof will face come during the melting process. Snow piled on a flat rubber roof will begin to melt as the weather creeps above freezing temperature during the day. This creates puddles of water underneath the snow that will continue to melt and re-freeze until the snow is finally gone in spring. This melting and re-freezing is what will cause problems for flat rubber roofs that haven’t been properly maintained, and we recommend that you prepare your flat roof for winter.


A flat rubber roof will have seams in many locations where two or more pieces of rubber come together. The roofing industry has come a long way developing materials and methods to secure these seams, but they nonetheless remain the most vulnerable part of a roof. Ice is perhaps the number one enemy of these seams. As the liquid from the snowmelt freezes, the water expands. This can cause seams to begin to pull apart, like in the photos above and below. Of course, when seams pull apart they cease to perform their duty and water begins to leak into the building. Here are blog posts about replacing a roof with wet insulation, and when you should replace your roof.


How to Prepare Your Flat Roof For Winter

Often times these problems aren’t known before the winter begins. When a leak develops over the winter, it probably can’t be fixed until the winter has passed. There are a few reasons for this: first is that a roof covered in snow and ice is a dangerous place usually not worth the risk of climbing onto; second, it is possible and perhaps even likely that the roof will get damaged from shoveling while removing the snow and ice in the area of the leak (every spring we find ourselves patching holes building owners have put in their roofs with snow shovels); lastly, roofing glues do not work in the low temperatures of winter. Collectively, these are the reasons we recommend that you prepare your flat roof for winter. 


The way around this problem is to have your roof inspected before winter arrives. When this happens, potential leaks can be fixed before the snow begins to pile up. You must prepare your flat roof for winter, rather than waiting for the problem to arise. This is especially true if it is an older roof, and doubly true if it has had leak problems before. If you are the least bit worried about your roof keeping you dry through the winter, don’t hesitate, call a qualified roofing contractor before the autumn has passed and have your flat rubber roof inspected. 

Brian Lyman