Winter Maintenance Tips for Homeowners with Flat Roofs

Blizzards, ice storms, hail, and rain — winter puts particular strain on a flat roof, which means that staying on top of maintenance from November to March is particularly important for homeowners who have a house that incorporates membranes and other forms of flat roofing material. 

If your roof suffers any form of damage over the winter, you’ll need to work with a professional company to get the membrane patched or repaired as soon as possible, so here are three flat roof maintenance tasks that every homeowner should be mindful of throughout the season.  

1. Keep Your Drains Clear

The most important aspect of winter maintenance for a flat roof is keeping the drains open. In cities that see temperatures fluctuate significantly during the winter months, making sure that meltwater has somewhere to go is important, and during warm spells it is quite common for drains to become clogged with ice and debris. 

It’s a good idea to have your drains thoroughly inspected in autumn, but if you weren’t able to get this done before the snow started to fall, checking up to make sure nothing is blocking the dome cover or impeding the flow of water is key. If your drain is clogged, you may need to bring in a plumber who can snake it to remove blockages. 

2. Don’t Remove Snow 

One common question many homeowners with flat roofs have is whether or not they should remove the snow that builds up on top of the roof. 

While there is a common misconception that the weight of snow can be damaging to a flat roof, the truth is actually the opposite: flat roofs are designed to hold up under significant weight, and the snow simply acts as another layer of insulation keeping your house warm. 

In fact, removing the snow can pose a far greater risk to your home than leaving it where it is, as a shovel scraping against the membrane can cause tearing and punctures.   

3. Monitor Ponding Water

While a thick layer of snow can actually be beneficial for your home during the winter months, during periods of thaw when all that snow melts, it’s a good idea to regularly check up on whether the meltwater is draining properly. 

One of the biggest risks to a flat roof is ponding water caused by uneven melting or clogged drains. Over time this ponding water can get into cracks or holes in your roofing membrane and seep into your living space, damaging drywall and causing ceiling leaks. Generally, most contractors will consider any water that doesn’t drain within 48 hours to be a potential risk. 

Flat roofs offer many advantages over traditional pitched roofs, but one of the few downsides of this style is that you need to be a little more vigilant during periods of increased precipitation or rapid temperature change. 

If you want to keep your roof in the best possible condition, check up on it regularly to make sure it is draining properly. If you notice any problems, be sure to contact a flat roofing company immediately.

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