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How to Maintain Your Gutters to Prevent Rust, Leaks, and Blockage

September 17, 2018

It's easy to overlook just how much your gutters do to protect your building. Channeling water away might seem like a simple and routine function, but what your gutter system is really doing by finding proper drainage for rain and snow is protecting your roof, walls, and even your foundation from water damage.

When gutters are working properly, we hardly notice them at all, but when they are rusted, leaky, or blocked, they can be a major headache. This is why it is important to perform routine cleaning and maintenance of your gutters and downspouts, restoring them if necessary, and to take preventative measures to protect your drainage system.

Seasonal Threats to Your Gutter

Your gutters face a variety of hazards all year round. Here are some seasonal pitfalls to guard against:

Spring

Heavy, wet spring snows can weaken joints and seams, and fluctuating temperatures can cause freeze-thaw cycles that widen seams and gaps. Accumulated dirt and debris from fall and winter can cause blockages.

Summer

Persistent or heavy rainfall can leak through compromised seams. Water exposure can lead to rust.

Fall

Leaves and other debris can clog gutters, resulting in blockages, which can lead to rust and water accumulation on the roof.

Winter

Freezing temperatures can lead to ice accumulation, which can compromise seams. Freeze-thaw cycles can exacerbate damage from built-up ice. Persistent freezing temperatures can lead to ice dams, causing blockage. In warmer climates, persistent winter rainfall can lead to rust and water accumulation or overflow.


Preventative Care: Maintaining Your Gutter

The best way to treat damage to your gutter is to avoid it in the first place. Here are some ways to head off gutter damage.

Clean Regularly

The most important thing you can do to protect your gutters and downspouts is to clean them regularly to avoid blockage and moisture accumulation. For most drainage systems, this is as simple as removing gutter debris using your hands or a trowel, and flushing downspout blockages. Other systems may require more thorough cleaning methods.

Self-Clean? or Hire A Pro?

When it comes time to clean gutters, many people elect to do it themselves, while others pay to have it done professionally. What's the difference? While most people can adequately clean their gutters DIY, a professional service will use specialized equipment that cleans more efficiently and effectively, and will typically go through a routine checklist of tasks for a meticulous clean. For this reason, the pro's job will be quicker and more thorough. Additionally, for buildings that are especially large or tall, a professional service may be the safest way to go.

Install Gutter Screens

If your building is located in an area with lots of trees or other sources of debris, you may choose to install gutter screens to keep litter out of your gutters. These devices range from simple metal grates that filter out large debris, to nylon screens that do a more thorough job, to foam filters that allow water through your gutter while bouncing litter away.

Trim Trees

At least once a year, you should trim any overhanging tree branches to reduce leaf litter come fall.

Clean Roof

Keeping your roof clean is a good idea for a variety of reasons. One of them is that the more debris that's on your roof, the more that can find its way into your gutters.

Check Gutter Pitch

Pour a bucket or two of water into your gutters to ensure that they are properly sloped and water is indeed draining.

Apply A Sealant

A quality rubber sealant can protect gutters from rust, maintain seam integrity, and facilitate better drainage, reducing blockage.


Proactive Care: Restoring Your Gutter

Even with regular maintenance, your gutters can suffer damage and wear from the elements. It's a good idea to inspect your drainage system for trouble spots at least once a year, and to address damage with a restoration process.

Find Leaks

Leaks are generally apparent during rainstorms and snowmelt, but you can also inspect for them by pouring a bucket or two of water into strategic areas of your gutter system. Leaky seams should be sealed with a caulking compound, while small holes can be patched with roofing cement. If a segment of gutter is especially leaky, it may warrant replacing.

Remove Rust

It is important to treat any rust before it does serious damage to your gutter. Remove light rust using a wire brush, and be sure to flush or vacuum the resulting debris. You can also use a rust-removing solvent before power washing your gutters.

Reline Your Gutter

After fixing leaks and removing rust, you should consider relining your gutter with a rubber sealant. This measure can keep seams from leaking, prevent rust, and limit blockage from debris.

Conclusion

Our gutters work hard to maintain healthy drainage around our property, but they're constantly exposed to small hazards that can wear them down over time. It's crucial to keep drainage systems in good condition with regular maintenance and cleaning, and by addressing small damages before they become huge problems.

Protecting Your Flat Commercial Roof from Snow and Ice

August 17, 2018

We often take for granted the work our roofs do for us in winter. While we stay safe from routine events like snow and ice storms, the roofs above our heads bear the brunt of the elements. But the work they do takes its toll over time. Snow and ice accumulation can have devastating effects on a commercial roof, causing damage to roofing materials and weakening structural components. If you own or manage a building in a wintry climate, taking steps to protect your roof from ice and snow can save you a lot of money, effort, and energy. In this article, we'll discuss the hazards your roof faces in winter, and how you can prepare for them.

Areas Most at Risk of Snow and Ice Damage to Roofs

Buildings that are situated anywhere that sees temperatures below freezing during colder months are vulnerable to the hazards of snow and ice damage. These areas include most northern states, as well as the Midwest and parts of the South. Most mountainous areas, such as the Rockies, the Appalachians, the Sierra Nevadas, and the Cascades, are also prone to heavy snowfall. Areas of the northeast, such as New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts, as well as upper midwestern states like Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, see a substantial amount of wintertime roof damage because of the heavy concentration of commercial buildings there.

Snow and ice damage, however, is not limited to predictably colder climates. In fact, unusual winter weather events in typically warm or dry climates can be devastating, as building managers often neglect to prepare their roofs for ice and snow accumulation.


The Effects of Snow and Ice on Your Commercial Roof

Snow and ice are surprisingly versatile in their ability to compromise your commercial roof. Here are the most common hazards they present:

Excessive snow load and potential collapse

One cubic foot of snow typically weighs about 12 pounds, and can weigh as much as 20 pounds. To put that in perspective, a 10,000-square-foot warehouse, after a storm that drops six inches of snow, may be bearing anywhere from 30 to 50 tons of snow. This stress is even greater in especially cold climates, where multiple snowfalls may accumulate before temperatures can rise enough to melt snow.

This kind of weight puts tremendous strain on a roof, damaging load-bearing components and sometimes causing total collapse, which can result in serious injury and costly damages.

Weakened roofing materials

Snow and ice, like any kind of moisture, can quickly deteriorate roofing materials. It can bend and buckle flashing, widen gaps in seams and joints, and exacerbate other weaknesses, such as membrane cracks or depressions in the surface.

Freeze and thaw cycles

As accumulated snow melts, the water that runs off of it may find its way into even the smallest gaps in the roof structure, especially around panel seams, flashing, joints, and curbs. This provides the pathway for water to travel beneath the roofing membrane. When the temperature drops below freezing again, this water will expand as it becomes ice, widening these gaps and compromising the integrity of the roof. Every time the gap widens, it allows more water in during the next melt, causing exponentially more damage with each cycle.

Ice dams

Water will often collect at the edges of the roof during a melt, creating what is called an ice dam as it refreezes. Ice dams prevent future melt runoff from draining properly, causing pooling, stress, and further ice damage to the roofing as this ice dam grows .

Pooling and leaks

Water from melting snow will accumulate in any depressions in the roof and leak through any unsealed or newly created gaps. This hazard is only compounded by the other dangers we've discussed.


 

How to Protect Your Commercial Roof from Snow and Ice

Snow and ice accumulation can cause considerable damage to a flat or commercial roof, but there are things you can do to protect from damage and extend the life of your roof.

Inspect annually for vulnerabilities and trouble spots

Before each winter, check your roof for any issues that could make it susceptible to snow and ice damage. Repair any gaps around seams, joints, and flashing, as well as any rooftop equipment. Address any damage to the membrane, especially around curbs and drainage sites, and check for any buckling or damage to structural components. If your roof is in need of substantial repair, you may save money down the road by performing at least a partial if not full restoration to shore it up for wintertime performance.

Know your roof's weight limits and check for warning signs of structural damage

It can be difficult to know just how much weight your roof can bear, but there are some clear signs of damage from excessive load. Check your ceiling for any sagging or cracks, and look for bowing in load-bearing beams and walls. Displaced lighting, pipes, air ducts, and ceiling tiles may also indicate a compromised roof. Additionally, substantial depressions in the roof, or any leaking, could point to serious damage. Structural deficiencies in your roof should be fixed immediately. Correcting these prior to coating can typically save you money and aggravation.

Know when to remove snow from your roof

Even if your building is not showing signs of structural roof damage, it is important not to let snow and ice accumulate beyond its load-bearing capacity. The longer that snow builds up on your roof, the more damage it may do. After large storms, or long periods of below-freezing temperatures, you may need to remove snow from your roof. When removing snow, it's important to take proper safety precautions, and to use techniques that will not harm your roof.

Use de-icing and melting materials that will not damage your roof

Having to remove snow from your roof can be prevented with the use of de-icing and melting materials and equipment. However, using products that are not compatible with roofing materials can cause even more damage. Before using de-icing chemicals, check to make sure they won't cause deterioration in roofing materials.

Clear gutters for proper drainage

It's always a good idea to keep drainage systems clear, but it's especially important when it comes to snow. Any other precautions you take are pointless if the water has nowhere to go after a melt.

Protect your roof with a coating system

As we've discussed, snow and ice will worsen any flaws in a commercial roof, and moisture will always find a way to exploit those flaws. One of the best things you can do to protect your roof is to apply a coating system that will shield it from moisture penetration. This measure is especially effective at preventing damage from freeze and thaw cycles, and has the added benefit of protecting your roof year-round, not just during winter.

Conclusion

Winter in cold climates can wreak havoc on commercial roofs, straining load-bearing elements, weakening roofing components, and resulting in leaks. With proactive care and attention, however, you can prepare your roof to significantly help prevent damage from snow and ice. Annual inspections, routine cleaning and maintenance, and a properly applied coating system can help your roof to weather many winters to come.

What to Know about Protecting and Fixing Your Skylight

August 6, 2018

Skylights are a popular feature of many commercial buildings. They are a great way to bring pleasant, natural lighting into commercial spaces that may necessarily have few windows, and they can help save on energy costs. However, as with any roofing fixture, skylights can be weakened by weather, age, or improper installation, compromising the integrity of your roof and exposing your building to the elements. In this article, we'll talk about the various hazards to skylights, how to repair a leaking skylight, and how to protect your skylight from damage and leaks.

How Do I Know if My Skylight Is Leaking?

The easiest way to determine whether your skylight has a leak is the most obvious one: inspect the area beneath it for drips and pooling water. Having a drip, however, is not necessarily a sign of a leak.

Rule Out Condensation

Just as your windshield has a tendency to fog up on a cool morning, environmental humidity will often condense on the pane of your skylight. Any temperature variation between the inside and outside of the skylight will cause moisture to gather on the pane. This is especially common during rainstorms and cold weather. If you see fogging or water beading on your skylight pain, you have a condensation issue.

Check Weep Holes

To prevent condensation from building up and raining back down into your building, skylights are outfitted with “weep holes,” small openings along the side that allow condensation to drain out onto the roof. If these holes are obstructed, condensed water has nowhere to go but down. If you suspect your skylight is leaking, you should first check to make sure that the weep holes are clear, and to unblock them if necessary. If condensation continues to be a problem once you've done this, you may need to replace your skylight. If condensation stops, but you still have a drip, you probably have a leak.

What Are the Causes of a Leaky Skylight?

There are a number of factors that can cause a skylight to leak. Here are the most common:

  • Damaged Flashing
    • Flashing is the flat metal covering creates a seal around a skylight. A variety of things can weaken or damage skylight flashing. Moisture can corrode or deteriorate the metal, and weather and debris can dent, warp, or loosen it. Temperature fluctuations cause roofs to expand and contract, pulling flashing away from the roof over time. Any such weakening of flashing can cause water to get through a skylight.
  • Damaged Roof Cement
    • In cases where a skylight is installed with roof cement, that may be the source of the leak. The elements can cause cement to crack or crumble over time. Pores, pinholes, and cracks in cement make a perfect passageway for water to get through.
  • Compromised Pane Seal
    • Water can also find its way directly through the gaps between the pane and the frame if the pane is not properly sealed.
  • Improper Installation
    • Ideally, your skylights were installed carefully and competently, but even an experienced installer can make a mistake, especially if they are unaware of the roof's characteristics or the manufacturer's specifications.



Other Skylight Hazards

Though leaking is one of the most common forms of skylight damage, it isn't the only one. Your skylights, like the rest of your roof, are exposed to the elements day in and day out, and they face a multitude of hazards.

  • Debris
    • Heavy objects present a danger to glass, fiberglass, and polycarbonate skylight panes. Overhanging tree limbs can drop onto the panel, and rooftop debris or improperly secured equipment can fly into them during high winds.
  • Acid Rain
    • Acid rain and other pollutants can take a toll on skylights, dirtying them over time and causing oxidation and chalking.
  • UV Rays
    • Ultraviolet radiation can also damage skylight panes, causing fiberglass and polycarbonate panels to yellow over time. Additionally, UV rays coming in through your skylight can bleach wooden furniture or paper products and cause skin damage to the people inside.

How Do I Protect My Skylight?

Given these hazards, there are a few things you can do to prepare your skylight and head off costly repairs in the future.

  • Prevent Leaks
    • The best way to prevent a leaking skylight is with careful installation and regular inspection. If small leaks begin to occur, check for wear along the flashing. Small openings in the flashing can generally be resealed with a flashing cement protected by a polyester membrane.
  • Remove Debris
    • At least once a year, inspect your roof for potentially dangerous hazards. Remove any debris, trim overhanging tree limbs, and ensure that rooftop equipment is properly secured.
  • Apply a Protective Coating
    • To protect fiberglass or polycarbonate skylights from the elements, you should consider applying a skylight sealant. These products can extend the life of your skylights by strengthening them and preventing oxidation and chalking. You may also consider applying a UV-blocking film to protect your skylight and your building from the sun.


Repair vs. Replace

So, the damage is already done. The sun, wind, and rain have battered your skylight over the years and left it leaking or otherwise exposed. Can the damage be reversed? Or should you bite the bullet and replace it?

In most cases, damage can be repaired. As we mentioned earlier, leaks caused by compromised flashing can usually be fixed by applying a sealant. However, if water permeation has caused substantial damage to the curb or to the roof around the skylight, replacement may be necessary. Similarly, damage to the pane often requires outright replacement.

How to Repair a Leaking Skylight

How you repair a leaky skylight depends on the source of the leak. The first thing to do, as we mentioned earlier, is to rule out condensation. Once you've done this, you'll need to determine where the leak is coming from. If the source is not evident during rain or snowmelt, you can try to replicate the leak with a garden hose.

  • Seal Gaps in Flashing
    • If the leak appears to be occurring as a result of compromised flashing, you can reseal any gaps with a durable flashing cement. After you've done so, we recommend applying a polyester membrane for total impermeability.
  • Replace or Repair Flashing
    • If the flashing is corroded or damaged beyond the small gaps caused by everyday wear, it may be necessary to replace it outright.
  • Seal the Pane
    • If the leak appears to be occurring between the pane and the frame, you'll have to reseal the pane with a silicone caulking.

Conclusion

Skylights are a popular and beneficial feature of many commercial roofs, but they're also prone to damage and leaking. Careful installation and regular inspection can prevent the worst damage, but to get the most out of your skylight it is helpful to apply a protective sealant. Doing so could save time and money down the road.

Protecting Your Commercial Roof from the Sun

July 10, 2018

When we think about how nature can deliver a beating to our commercial roofs, we usually think about rain and wind. But in dry, hot climates, roofs face another of nature's challenges, one that can be just as devastating over time: the sun. Prolonged exposure to hot sun can take a serious toll on commercial roofs, weakening them through thermal shock and UV breakdown, and heating the building beneath them.

Below, we'll talk about what you can do to protect the most vulnerable part of your building from sun damage.

How Hot Can Your Roof Get?

The temperature of a roof under the sun depends on its material and color, as well as the environmental conditions around it. This is because of the way in which solid materials absorb the sun's rays. Sunlight enters the atmosphere as ultraviolet (UV) radiation. Your roof absorbs those UV rays and converts them to infrared radiation, which is re-emitted as heat.

We all know that darker colors absorb more of the sun's rays (that is, in fact, why they're darker), so darker colored roofs will be hotter under the sun. A black roof can be anywhere from 50 to 100 degrees hotter than the ambient temperature, meaning that, on a 90-degree day, your roof could be as hot as 190 degrees. Unpainted metal can be as much as 50 degrees hotter than the surrounding temperature, while a plain white roof can be as much as 30 degrees hotter. Specialized roof coatings, like those produced by the Topps® company, convert those oftentimes to just 2° F. over the outside air temperature.


What Areas Are Most Susceptible to Heat Damage?

Unsurprisingly, the areas of the country most affected by heat damage are the ones known for their hot, dry, sunny climates, especially Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Nevada. As anyone who lives in these places knows, summers here can be brutal. Averages hover in the 90s and highs can soar towards 110 degrees. Surprisingly to those outside the Midwest and South, summer temperatures often hover in those temperatures, too.

But it's not simply the heat that puts buildings in some states at risk, it's also the elevation and aridity. Because atmospheric moisture pulls UV radiation out of the air, roofs with less humidity and atmosphere between them and the sun are more exposed to UV radiation. A roof in Las Vegas on a 90-degree day will be more vulnerable, in a shorter period, than a roof in Miami on a 90-degree day, because it is absorbing so much more UV radiation.

The Effects of Extreme Heat on Your Roof

Heat exposure can damage roofs or compromise buildings in a few important ways.

WEAKEND ROOFING MATERIALS

Extreme temperatures can take their toll on roofing components, causing them to crack, curl, break down, and dry, and shorten their lifespan.

THERMAL SHOCK

Like most materials, when roofs get hot, they expand, and when they cool down, they contract. This constant process of expansion and contraction will compromise their structural integrity, causing them to crack and disintegrate, and pulling apart seams. For metal roofs, fasteners loosen, and seams open up. This is especially a concern in climates where temperatures can fluctuate vastly and quickly between day and night. Or, where cool rains can shower onto hot roofs.

UV DAMAGE

UV rays don't simply damage roofs on account of the heat they cause. They can also alter the molecular structure of some roofing materials, causing oxygen molecules to bind with hydrocarbons in the material, which can lead to brittleness and cracking. Similarly, UV rays attack the original protective finish of other roofs such as metal roofs. That’s when rust develops.

COOLING COSTS

When roofs absorb heat from the sun, they emit much of that heat below them, raising building temperatures. This, in turn, requires you to use more energy to keep your building cool and comfortable.

How to Protect Your Roof from Extreme Heat

As we've shown, roofs take a beating from the sun. However, there are a few things you can do to substantially mitigate that damage.

Inspect Annually for Vulnerabilities and Trouble Spots

You should inspect your roof once a year for signs of sun damage. Check for gaps in seams, and cracking or curling of composites. Any signs of damage should be addressed immediately, and in some cases, you may consider a restoration process to bring your roof back into shape. This process is where a stitch-in-time can save nine. Wait too long, and the option expires.

Add Ventilation

Making sure that the area beneath your roof is properly ventilated can help to reduce heat and humidity build-up.

Protect Your Roof with a Heat-Resistant Coating System

The single most effective thing you can do to protect your roof from sun and heat damage is to apply a heat-resistant coating to it. These coatings reflect UV radiation away from the roof, so that your roof can't absorb it and turn it into heat.

Metal roofs with a reflective coating can be about 40% cooler than unpainted metal roofs, and the temperature of black roofs can drop as much as 50 degrees F. when a reflective coating is applied. Heat-resistant coatings can protect your roof from thermal shock and UV damage, while also slowing the aging process and lowering cooling costs.

Conclusion

The sun is a formidable foe to your commercial roof. Its rays can bake roofing materials, break down structural components, and cause devastating thermal shock. In places that are especially exposed to the sun, a little preparation can prevent a lot of damage. Applying a heat-resistant coating and inspecting your roof regularly are essential to its health and longevity.

Preparing Your Commercial Roof for Hurricane Season

June 25, 2018

Hurricanes are a serious threat to the Gulf and Atlantic coasts. Historically, roughly three major hurricanes hit the United States every five years, and in recent years that average has increased. In 2017 alone, hurricanes caused roughly $282 billion in damage to the United States and the Caribbean, with one storm, Harvey, accounting for almost half that total in Texas and Louisiana.

As hurricanes continue to threaten coastal states, property owners in these regions must reckon with the damage they can cause. No part of your building is more susceptible to hurricane damage than your roof, and special considerations should be made to help your roof weather the storm. Below, we'll talk about how to prepare your roof for hurricane season, and what to do if a major storm hits your area.

Hurricane Season in the United States

The Atlantic Hurricane season lasts from June 1 to November 30th. The states most vulnerable to hurricanes in the U.S. are Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia (though, as Irene demonstrated in 2011, hurricanes can make landfall along the entire Atlantic coast). As summer approaches, anyone with property along the Gulf and Atlantic coasts should be sure that they're prepared for the possibility of a major storm.

Hurricane Hazards

In order to protect against hurricanes, it's important to be aware of the specific hazards they pose and how they can damage a roof. There are four main hazards to consider:

HEAVY WINDS

By definition, hurricanes produce sustained winds of at least 74 mph, and major storms produce winds upwards of 150 mph. While most roofs can hold up against typical wind gusts, the intense, sustained winds found in hurricane conditions can be severely destructive, tearing away unprotected roof components like flashing or gutters.

RAIN

Hurricanes and tropical storms drop an average of 16 inches of rain, with about 75% of total rainfall occurring during a 24-hour period after hitting land. Especially destructive storms can bring much more: Hurricane Harvey, believed by meteorologists to be the greatest single rainfall event in U.S. history, dropped almost 52 inches of rain. Heavy, persistent rainfall can be catastrophic to weakened or compromised roofs, causing structural weakening and leakage.

FLASH FLOODING

One consequence of heavy rainfall is flooding, which in a hurricane can happen rapidly. Water pooling can put tremendous stress on flat roofs, as well as drainage systems, and flooding can make it difficult or impossible to access your roof for days.

DEBRIS

Everything from tin cans to tree limbs can become deadly projectiles under hurricane force winds, exposing roofs to puncture and breakage.

Metal roof damaged by hurricane.

How to Prepare Your Roof for a Hurricane

There are a number of measures you should take to make sure your roof is in good shape to withstand a hurricane, both year-round and when a storm is approaching. Below are some recommendations.

What to Do Before Hurricane Season Begins

PERFORM REGULAR ROOF MAINTENANCE

Keeping a routine maintenance schedule for your roof is a good idea under any circumstances, but it can save a lot of time and energy, and prevent serious damage, in the event that a hurricane hits your area. Check your roof regularly for wear and disrepair, especially around seams, joints, and flashing, and remove loose items and debris. Replace any rusted metal components or rotted wood, especially around curbs.

It's a good idea to have your roof professionally inspected each year before June 1, and to address any issues of damage or wear. If your roof has multiple repair issues, you may consider a full roof restoration to bring it back into shape. While inspecting your roof, and after any repairs or restoration, be sure to document its condition with photos. This could be crucial if you have to file an insurance claim after the storm.

REMOVE OVERHANDING TREE BRANCHES

Have a tree service remove any limbs or weakened trees that could damage your roof in a high-wind storm.

CLEAR GUTTERS

Regularly clean gutters and remove blockage or clutter. It's also important to keep your roof clean, so potential obstructions like leaves and dirt can't make it into your drainage system. Water pooling from blocked drains can be severely damaging. Also, confirm that gutters and drainpipes are properly anchored, and replace any rusted components.

What to Do When A Hurricane Is on Its Way

DO A STORM INSPECTION OF YOUR ROOF

Check all roof-mounted equipment, such as air conditioners, satellite dishes, etc., to be sure that they are tightly and properly anchored. Check vents and stacks for the same, and make sure all flashing is properly secured. Remove any debris and loose items—they can clog drains, damage buildings, and potentially injure someone if taken away by wind.

Check for signs of rust, rot, or damage, including leaky seams, loose joints, and gaps. Regular inspection and/or restoration should prevent this kind of wear, but it's important to confirm that your roof is in good shape before a storm, and to repair any damage immediately.

CHECK FOR BLOCKS IN THE DRAINAGE SYSTEM

Make sure that your gutters and drainpipes are poised to handle heavy rainfall by checking for blockage and pooling.

SECURE GUTTERS AND EQUIPMENT WITH STORM STRAPS

Make sure that gutters and roof-mounted equipment are properly braced for high winds with straps designed to anchor them to the structure.

PROTECT SKYLIGHTS

If your roof has skylights, be sure they are covered with plywood or caps, to prevent breakage and potential flooding.

SECURE HATCHES

Confirm that access hatches are adequately secured.

SECURE LIGHTNING PROTECTION SYSTEMS

If your roof has a lightning protection system, confirm that all cables and aerials are connected and properly secured. Disconnected cables will prevent the system from functioning properly, exposing your building to fire danger, and loose equipment can become airborne in high winds.

PREPARE FOR AFTER THE STORM

Even the best prepared roof can suffer some damage from a major hurricane. You may want to take steps beforehand to make any action after the storm easier. Consider scheduling a post-storm inspection before the hurricane hits, and be sure to document the condition of your roof. Many insurance policies raise deductibles on damage inflicted by named storms, so it's a good idea to review your policy and budget for repairs if you can.

Commercial roof destroyed by hurricane.

What to Do After the Storm Hits

INSPECT AND ASSESS

Check your roof damage. Pay special attention to vents and stacks, flashing, seams, joints, and equipment.

CHECK FOR DANGEROUS DAMAGE

Before letting anyone into your building, be sure no parts of the roof have been damaged to the extent that they may fall or collapse.

CHECK FOR LEAKS

Water is a persistent creature, and it can find its way through spaces imperceptible to a routine post-storm inspection. Be sure to check your building for signs of roof leakage in order to prevent mold or water damage.

DOCUMENT DAMAGE

Take photos of damaged areas on your roof. They'll be extremely valuable during the claims process.

CALL YOUR INSURANCE COMPANY IF YOUR ROOF IS DAMAGED

If you have roof damage, you'll want to get the claims process going as soon as possible, since you'll likely be entering a very long queue of property owners who have sustained damage.

CALL A CONTRACTOR

Roofing professionals, too, will be very busy after a hurricane, so be sure to schedule repairs as soon as possible. Hire a contractor you trust—episodes of high demand like hurricanes often bring out unscrupulous and opportunistic sorts.

REPLACE? OR RESTORE AND PROTECT?

If your roof has sustained severe damage, you'll have to make the decision of whether to replace or restore it. In some cases, such as if your roof has been structurally compromised, you'll have no choice but to replace it. In many cases, however, restoration is a more sensible, economical, and sustainable option that can not only address immediate repairs but also protect your roof for decades to come.

Conclusion

Hurricanes are a serious and inevitable threat to people and property along America's coasts. Major storms can cause billions of dollars in damage, and no part of your building is more exposed than your roof. But with diligent preparation, including regular maintenance and restoration, hurricanes can be withstood, and roof damage mitigated.