Four Common Flat Roof Problems In Snowy Climates

Posted on: 24 July 2018

In northern areas of the country that receive heavy snowfall, the trend is to put a steep pitch roof on homes and businesses. This is so the snow and ice loads can slide off rather than build up. A fact of life in northern towns, especially if they are small towns, is that the towns tend to have older downtown areas. "Main Street" is lined with 100-year-old brick buildings with flat roofs. As snow can't go anywhere on a flat roof, especially when the buildings are often conjoined, the roofs end up getting a lot of wear and tear. Here is a list of the problems your flat roof can encounter.


A flat roof is built with a slight pitch to allow rainwater and melting snow to run off somewhere, even if it is down a single gutter spout. But over time, that pitch may shift, and the water will begin pooling rather than draining. If you are situated where you can see your roof, such as from an adjacent building, and you notice puddles of water accumulating, it will need to be fixed. Most commercial building owners cannot see their roof, however, which is why it is important to have at least an annual inspection. The roofing contractor can build up the asphalt to provide a slight slope again and prevent pooling.  


Just like regular roofs, flat roofs have metal flashing that serves to seal the roofing edges. This flashing will eventually wear out from the temperature extremes and normal wear. If not replaced, it could lead to rotting and leaks.


A flat roof is made of asphalt and a rubber-like material, but rather than be covered in shingles, it is just one piece. Every home or building settles eventually—even really old ones. This is particularly common in the north where winter and spring freeze/thaw cycles can cause the ground to heave. If the building shifts, the roof can buckle. A buckling roof cannot be repaired, and it means it's time to get a new one.


Snow and ice buildup can be extremely heavy, especially in snowbelt areas that receive over 100 inches of snow annually. This snow tends to be extra heavy as it picks up moisture as it moves over land. Additionally, on days that it warms up a little, the snow will begin to thaw but then freeze again that night, potentially creating a heavier block of ice.

When this load gets to be too much for the supports, your roof can crack. This is a roofing emergency that must be immediately addressed to avoid severe damage to the rest of your building. A roofing contractor will need to come and shore up the supports as well as remove the snow and ice.

Many insurance policies won't cover flat roof mishaps because of the cracking potential. This perilous situation and the other problems can be avoided by making sure you have a professional roofing contractor who performs commercial roof services regularly inspect and maintain your roof.


Time for a New Roof?

Hi, my name is Mitch. Before retiring a few years ago, I worked in the roofing industry. Over the years, I worked in nearly every capacity, ranging from apprentice to general manager of the company. I know that purchasing a new roof for your home can be expensive and a bit intimidating. My goal is to provide useful advice to help you make informed decisions when it comes to your new roof. I'm going to share information about different roofing materials and why you may want to consider one over another. I'll also share where you can cut costs, and how to choose a reputable roofing company. I hope you find this information valuable.

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