Roof Repair after a Snowstorm

While we’re still basking in the glory of summer, winter is not far off bringing with it the possibility of snowstorms. Roof damage due to snowstorms can be devastating both emotionally and financially whether you’re a homeowner or business owner.

The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) offers the following information that will help you through the process of restoring your roof system.

Some points have been covered by Jottan in other newsletter articles but there is some information that is always worth repeating.

Selecting a roofing contractor

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Price is only one criterion for selecting a professional roofing contractor; professionalism and quality workmanship also must be considered. Take some time to evaluate potential contractors before any reroofing work begins.

A professional roofing contractor should have:

  • A permanent place of business
  • Knowledge of various roof systems
  • Proof of insurance and an effective safety program
  • Evidence of industry professionalism, such as proof of training, manufacturer certifications, association membership, business account balance statement, etc.
  • Continuing industry education
  • Financial stability
  • A written proposal
  • A license and/or be bonded
  • Warranties
  • References in your state (Proceed with caution if the contractor only provides out-of-state references.)
  • A maintenance program

Beware of a contractor:

  • Whose references are all out of state
  • Who only wants cash
  • Who wants money before materials are on site
  • Who offers “specials” or “extra-cheap” work

Before making repairs

Unlike interior damage and external damage you can see at eye level, inspecting roof system damage involves climbing a ladder on a potentially unsound, storm-damaged structure. Be sure to proceed with caution, and do not attempt an inspection alone.

  • Do not attempt to climb a ladder and assess roof damage in the dark.
  • Wear sturdy shoes or boots, a long-sleeved shirt and work gloves.
  • Except in extreme situations, do not attempt roof system repairs. The puncturing of a blister (shingle expansion caused by trapped gases such as air or water vapor) or the spreading of a coating or mastic covers up evidence a roofing contractor needs to ascertain the problem. Roof openings should be temporarily covered with tarpaulins to minimize snow and rain damage.
  • For safety reasons, do not attempt to remove ice dams or shovel snow off your roof because you may cause more harm than good in some instances. The roof covering, flashings and gutters may be damaged during attempts to break up ice or by dragging a snow rake across the roof. Snow removal from a rooftop while standing on the ground typically results in snow being left on the roof’s higher sections, which may lead to ice-dam formation above where a water and ice-dam protection membrane is installed. Where snow and ice buildup on a rooftop is an urgent problem, it is preferable to have a professional roofing contractor address it.
  • After a snowstorm, be aware of possible structural, electrical or gas-leak hazards in your home. Contact your local city or county building inspectors for information about structural safety codes and standards.

Insurance

Prepare to file an insurance claim by gathering copies of your homeowner’s policy, or track down your policy number(s), and call your insurance company as soon as possible after the snowstorm. Your insurer will provide instructions about what to do next.

In a situation where a widespread disaster has occurred, the insurance company may establish special procedures. Keep your receipts for temporary repairs because your insurance company is likely to reimburse you. If your home is uninhabitable, find out whether living expenses will be reimbursed.

Other help

Special loans or grants may be available to assist you with repairs. Possible sources include:

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The Pros of Being Proactive

There can never be enough said about the wisdom of being proactive in your approach to roof maintenance.  A well maintained roof not only provides protection for the interior of your building but also all the assets contained within it. Additionally, a well maintained roof last an average of 21 years compared to an average lifespan of 13 years for roofs that are maintained only on an as needed basis.

 Proactive roof maintenance is not a one and done type of project. One definition of “maintenance,” according to Merriam-Webster online dictionary, is “the upkeep of property or equipment.” Extending it a bit further the meaning of “upkeep” is “the act or process of keeping something in good repair, especially over a long period.”

What should you look for regarding the long-term maintenance/upkeep of your roof? Someone who will provide you with the same high-quality work and reliability on a long-term basis as you provide to your customers as it pertains to your field of industry.

Below are a few suggestions of what to look for in a contractor that will help you maintain a proactive approach to roof maintenance 1.

  • Is up-to-date in their use of the latest analytical technology that goes beyond the visual analysis, such as infrared scanning and membrane testing.
  • Provides testing, analysis and reports that will help you determine if roof repair or restoration is an option or if replacement is necessary.
  • Understands roofing systems as they pertain to your particular building.
  • Is full service providing repair, restoration and replacements. This will improve the likelihood of an accurate analysis and a successful plan for your roof and your budget.
  • Consider safety a high priority providing technicians with ongoing training in safe work practices.
  • Stability and longevity.
  • Technicians are employed by and work for the contractor not a sub-contractor.
  • Offers regularly scheduled maintenance programs.

For more information on assessing contractor qualifications, read our next article “Roof Repair after a Snowstorm

  1. Excerpted from “Commercial Roof Maintenance: A Proactive Approach” on buildings.com