Preparing Your Commercial Roof for Storm Season in Florida

The Importance of Storm Preparation Commercial Roof Inspections in Florida

Every year, hail, wind, floods, lightning storms, tornadoes, and hurricanes wreak billions of dollars in damage to residential and commercial structures across the United States. Florida alone bears the load of 38% of hurricanes in the US that reach landfall. According to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, Florida has been hit by six of the 10 costliest storms in US history. The yearly Atlantic hurricane season spans from June 1 to November 30. As hurricane season arrives this year, Florida companies must ensure that their commercial buildings are prepared to literally “weather” the storms. 

You should prepare your roof for hurricane season to safeguard both the exterior and interior of your building. Unfortunately, roof leak detection is often “out of sight, out of mind” for most commercial companies. Unrecognized storm damage, however, can weaken a roof system over time, causing even more difficulties in the future – problems that can significantly influence a roof’s lifespan and value. This can lead to expensive roof leak repairs and even property loss due to premature aging and degradation of roof materials from storm and water damage. 

The good news is that it is not difficult or unpleasant to establish proactive prevention of the need for roof leak repair from storm damage. In order to ensure the health and longevity of your roof and property, it is essential to have certified commercial roofers check out your roof twice per year, according to the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA). It is especially important to conduct a roof inspection before storm season hits the north Florida region each year.

Before and after storm season, schedule a proactive roof inspection.

You will most likely get your roof checked after hurricane season, but it is vital to schedule a roof check for possible roof leak repairs before the yearly surge of storms even begins. Before storm season, a licensed commercial roofing contractor may inspect your roof for any roof penetration or roof leak detection and conduct necessary roof leak repairs, as well as check for other issues that could cause difficulties. It’s always better to do the roof repairs before a hurricane strikes than afterward! It might be the difference between being able to safeguard your commercial building and valuables and having to submit a claim to replace important items and conduct even more costly roof leak repairs at a later date.

This is what we look for during a storm preparation inspection on the roof of a commercial building.

Since we do not often have an aerial view of our roofs, the roof of a commercial building is often “out of sight, out of mind.” However, most roofing issues and roof leak repairs can be quickly fixed and even avoided in preventative roof detection and care, particularly just before storm season hits the northeast Florida region.

One of the most important and overlooked components of roof health is a good drainage system. The number one ingredient for disaster during storm season is water getting trapped on a roof, usually in the case of a commercial flat roof, because internal drains, scuppers, or gutters are not properly draining rainwater. All roofs are waterproof but are not designed to hold trapped water for extended periods of time. Roofs are all about loads, and if the load of a roof is exceeded, it will create major issues. Water is heavy and can cause beam issues and, worst-case scenario can even collapse a roof. Sadly, what was once a 20-year life of a roof can easily be reduced to 13-14 years with these kinds of drainage issues.

What can cause interruptions in a commercial roofing drainage system?

The biggest culprit of a blocked drain system is tree debris. We constantly see a build-up of leaves and small limbs clog gutters and roof drains of commercial buildings. When a building continues to have debris on the roof and in the gutters keeps the roof from drying out, which is an important step for the longevity of a roof’s life. Without the chance to fully dry, a roof continually traps moisture, causing the roof to break down over time, thus impeding the lifespan of that roof system.

Another culprit to watch out for is incorrect gutter sizes. Often, a common problem we see when checking roofs for roof leaks or penetrations is that the wrong gutter size for the roof was installed. Commercial buildings with large roofs especially require a large gutter system. For example, with a 20-30,000 square foot roof, all of that water needs a place to go. If the spout and drainage system is not large enough to carry all of that water, water again stays trapped on the roof and this immensely impedes the health of the roof.

What does a preliminary roof inspection before storm season look like?

Often, a Register Roofing team can come in to touch up and tighten up seams and gutter systems just before the roof is about to undergo a difficult weather season. Simply by having a quick preliminary check-up, many roofing leak disasters can be prevented.

We offer a Preventative Maintenance Plan that includes maintenance of minor roofing issues and repairs that would minimize the chance of roof leaks. For example, we check for rust or deterioration in the gutter system. If we find any, we use a probe to ensure joints are still holding well and are secure and that there are no rust or sealant issues anywhere. After all, it is important that moisture is not sitting in a steel or aluminum system due to rusting and corrosion over time in which the water ends up eating through the metal materials. This is why our team also checks for damages in the metal coatings, as water causes coatings to break down much quicker than any other materials.

While completing a proactive roof inspection before storm season, if we find that major work needs to be done, we talk to the owner about a plan and issue a proposal. In our process, we always include photographs to show the client issues on the roof and explain how the issues might augment through a storm hitting.

What could happen if you don’t take preventative measures before storm season hits?

Sadly, unnecessary damage to a roof system occurs when preventative roof inspections and maintenance are not performed regularly. For example, usually, modern roofing membranes are tough and can consistently withstand hard rain. However, even half of an inch of perpetual standing water puts stress on a roofing membrane and will inevitably create a leak over time. Even a small pinhole in a roof can cause thousands of dollars in damage if the leak happens to be located over an important internal area of the commercial building, such as the server room of a bank. The more roofing materials deteriorate due to storm, wind, and water damage without the necessary and proper upkeep, the more the cost is of roofing repair. Even if you are not aware of any roofing issues in your commercial building, it is still worth it to have someone come and check on the roof just in case.

How to do a “self check-up” on your commercial roof to maintain gutter health before storm season

You should allow your roofers to come out 1-2 times per year to check on terminations and penetrations. Our preventative maintenance program includes not only a detailed inspection report highlighting issues, but also basic roof care services such as drainage, cleaning, and sealant repairs. By executing this service on an annual or biannual basis, building owners may eliminate risks before they become more troublesome. According to studies, proper preventative maintenance may increase the life of a roof by 25%, or five years on average.

However, you yourself as the owner should also walk the roof every few months to notice any visible damage. At Register Roofing, we suggest to our commercial building owners that they should do periodic checks around the roof, particularly right before hurricane season, using this roof storm preparation checklist:

RED FLAGS for immediate action: 

  • Is there standing water or active deterioration of the roof? If so, call a registered commercial roofing company immediately to prevent any further damage.

  • Are there any warning signs of issues that would compromise the whole roof system, such as a collapse or roof cave-in? Call a registered commercial roofing company immediately.

YELLOW FLAGS for storm preparation and preventative measures: 

  • Are there any limbs hanging over the roof? If so, trim and remove them. Also, consider the types of trees around your property, as even acorns can cause sharp damage to a TPO roof.

  • Did you secure outdoor objects that might create a hazard in strong winds?

  • Are gutters clear of debris? If not, clear them. Making sure your gutter is cleaned out is essential for a roof to withstand multiple rain storms.

  • Does water have an easy and clear way to exit the roof? If you are unsure, call a commercial roofing company to do a preliminary roof check.

  • Have you examined the roof warranty for your commercial building? Regular servicing and maintenance are usually necessary to keep your roof warranty valid. 

  • Has your roof been checked in the last 6 months? Have you had a commercial roofer do a preliminary check-up on the roof before storm season? Many roofing companies will conduct free preliminary roofing inspections on commercial buildings or offer a preventative maintenance plan.

  • Did I have a roof inspection after a large storm or hurricane? Even if you are not aware of any roofing concerns in your commercial building, it is still a good idea to have a commercial roofing company come out and inspect the roof.

Florida has had the most direct hurricane strikes in the United States, including 50 Category 3 or higher storms, from 1851 to 2019 according to FDACS. The fact about storms is that they are formidable natural forces that should not be underestimated. Take steps to ensure your commercial building property is sufficiently prepared for the numerous possibilities that might occur during one of these storms. 

Contact Register Roofing to discuss a preventative roof inspection or to inquire about our Preventative Maintenance Plan. Register Roofing gives a complete report so that building owners may be certain that they have the best plan possible to prevent roof damage before storm season even begins.


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