In early winter, we experience freezing temperatures overnight with warmer temperatures during the day. This causes roof systems to expand and contract, and water to freeze then thaw, making leaks harder to spot.
For example, if water is leaking in through a rubber roof, it might make it into the insulation during the day, but the water will freeze overnight and stop the movement. It could be weeks before the leak manifests inside the building, alerting building owners to the issue.
Winter leaks should not go untreated. They need to be repaired – even if temporarily – during the winter to prevent serious damage from occurring come spring. Following are ways to spot a winter leak, how to handle it, and your options for repair once the weather warms up.
How to Identify a Winter Roof Leak
- Bubbling or peeling on painted ceilings or drywall – If you have a painted ceiling or drywall, there may be some paint peeling or bubbling that indicates there is moisture behind it. Often, this can also be an indication of a grading issue, not a roof leak. Reach out to roofing and grading experts to pinpoint the issue.
- Brown spots on ceilings and ceiling tiles – A brown spot is an indication of water leaking, then drying, even if in small amounts, over time. Check on the spot periodically, especially after a thaw, to see if it is wet. Contact a roofing expert to schedule an inspection.
- Wet spots or drips from ceiling – This is a sign of an active leak. The severity is unknown because water can be absorbed and then pool on top of ceiling tiles before it drips through. Contact a roofing expert immediately to schedule an inspection.
A winter leak can be concerning in any type of structure, but especially for commercial and industrial buildings that have expensive equipment or business-critical products to protect. Seamless Building Systems (SBS) has more than 20 years of experience inspecting and repairing commercial and industrial building roofs.
While most construction is limited in Wisconsin winters, our roofing experts can do site visits to conduct inspections and make temporary repairs if necessary to protect the entire roof system – both above and below the roof surface – until more in-depth work can be completed.
When a roof leaks, there are four ways it can be repaired. Solutions are determined by the cause of the leak, the extent of the damage, and the age or overall state of the roof.
- Repair – Finding and repairing areas of the roof that leak or are weak points that are flagged to potentially leak. The goal of each repair is to eventually restore the roof to extend its lifecycle.
- Restore – Restoration extends the life of a sound, but aged roof. The majority of roof failures occur in less than 10% of the roof area. SBS provides major roof repair or resurfacing of the current roof system to restore it to serviceable condition. This saves money, avoids business disruption, and keeps unnecessary waste out of the landfill.
- Recover – If a roof has one layer of singly ply rubber and restoration will prove to be difficult, recovery board and a second layer of single ply rubber can be placed over the entire roof. This is an inexpensive solution to a damaged roof and significantly prolongs the time before further restoration or a full replacement would be necessary.
- Replace – While our goal at SBS is to extend the life of the roof by restoring it, there are some roofs where this is not possible. When a roof replacement is in order, we consider proper surface preparation, unique shapes and applications, and proper edge bonding at the start of the project so the installation is smooth, cost-effective, and minimally disruptive.
Don’t let the winter weather hold you back from tackling a roof leak. Contact us today to see how SBS roofing experts can help.