How to Winterize Your Flat Roof

A flat roof gives your home or office building a sleek and modern appearance.  Although most flat roofs do have a slight slope, they are far less pitched than traditional roofs.  With that knowledge, you will need to give a flat roof more attention prior to winter.  It will be more prone to an accumulation of snow, ice, or other debris which can result in leaks.  With some pre-winter precautions and spring inspection, you will still enjoy the aesthetics of your flat roof and have a secure covering on your house or commercial building.


In mid to late fall, have your roof inspected by a qualified roofing professional.  They will take a look at issues like the general condition of the roofing materials and make sure the edging is still properly aligned.  Any debris should be removed and check the drains to be sure they are open and free-flowing.  


Repairing any cracked sealant or replacing broken caulking will help avoid water from entering the interior.  The sun’s UV rays can damage these areas and winds and weather can cause erosion and failure.


At the same time you are replacing any damaged sealants, check the membrane and arrange for any necessary repairs or replacement.


Keeping gutters and downspouts clear is important for a building with any type of roof.  It is easy for leaves, debris, and other items to accumulate.  If the gutters are not able to move any rain or snow from the roof, ice dams will form and these dams will back up under the roofing materials causing severe damage.


The underlayment is a self-adhesive product that helps waterproof the roof.  It is flexible and will conform to areas that are not squared off.  It is durable and provides a non-skid surface.  This needs inspection as well.  There should be no holes, including any nails.

Regular Maintenance

Through the temperate months of the year, there is some regular maintenance that should be performed to keep your roof in good shape:

  • Sweep the roof clear of any debris. Use care because too much pressure or raking a sharp twig over the membrane can damage it or remove the protective coating.
  • Keep the drain hub and surrounding area clear of debris. This usually involves using your hands.  Periodically remove the drain hub (using an adjustable wrench) and spray the area with a garden hose on high pressure.  Use a plumber’s snake to dislodge any accumulated debris. Clearing the drains prevents water collection.
  • Prune overhanging tree limbs. This will not only help reduce the number of leaves and twigs but will prevent damage from a limb breaking during a storm and landing on the roof.
  • Look for any blistering or soft pockets that can accumulate water.

Depending on your availability, agility, and fear of heights, it may be a good idea to find a reputable roofing company in Ottawa with whom you can contract to perform regular maintenance to keep your flat roof in good shape and safe. 


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