Metal Roofs and Gutters: Preparing for Winter

Published October 6, 2014 by Whirlwind Team

metal roofs winterAs summer shifts to autumn, it's time to think about weatherizing your property and its structures. Among other things, this means ensuring your metal buildings are equipped with the metal roofs and gutters that will direct water down and away from your building. While steel and metal buildings are impermeable to most pests, can handle incredibly high wind loads and are extremely fire resistant, moisture is their worst enemy.

Steps to Preparing Your Metal Building for Winter

Preparing your metal building for winter is one of the most important things you can do to take advantage the low maintenance benefits and longevity that steel and metal buildings are known for.

Install the right roof. If you're in the planning stages of your metal building design, pay careful attention to your roofing options so you select a roof that is designed to handle the prospective rain and/or snowfall in your area. Your metal roofing may be waterproof, but that doesn't mean it's water shedding.

  • Waterproof. The term "waterproof metal roof" means that the roofing material has been coated with a waterproof coating as well as a design that can withstand full submersion from time to time, usually via corrugated roofing panels with exposed fasteners or various standing seam panels with little or no fasteners exposed with a minimal gradient.
  • Water shedding. Water shedding roofs are recommended for areas that experience higher than normal rain/snow fall. The slope is steeper and encourages water to move immediately from the roof and into watershedding features

While high-quality metal roofs have warranties of up to 40 years, you should inspect your roof and skylights annually to keep an eye on potential trouble spots so repairs, parts replacement, recoating, etc., can be scheduled immediately.

Inspect your roof system. While metal roofs are low-maintenance, they still require a little checking up on from time to time. One of the largest culprits responsible for moisture-related metal roof damage is plant debris such as pine needles, leaves and twigs. These materials absorb water and as they decay, the combination of water and decayed organic materials can begin corroding your roofing material. Clear your roof of any visible debris on the roof's surface, including the "valleys" formed where two different angles or elevations come together. Look for any signs of unevenness, rust, corrosion, missing parts, condensation in the skylights or any other evidence that your roof may be compromised. Then, schedule an appointment with a professional to have it taken care of.

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Inspect and clean the gutters. First, inspect your gutters for signs of wear-and-tear and to ensure they are securely attached to the building. Your lawn and roof aren't the only ones vulnerable to autumn's falling leaves. Accumulated debris in the gutters makes it impossible for them to drain water efficiently and this is not a good thing. Not only does it compromise water drainage, it can cause overflow that makes it impossible to enter or leave the building without walking through a waterfall. Sweep debris out and away from the gutters and make an effort to check them again after heavy winds and storms. Also, watch out for ice dams - caused by the repeat thawing and freezing of snow - that accumulate on the edges of your roof. Carefully remove accumulated snow from the edges of your roof if you are able to do so safely.

Don't forget the interior of the roof. All may be well on the exterior surfaces of your roof but you aren't completely done yet. Now it's time to get up in the attic space and do a thorough inspection there as well. Condensation is as much during the winter months as it is during a hot, humid summer. If heated interior air and/or passive solar heat meets the cooler surface of your attic's roof condensation can be the result. This can cause moisture damage as well as potential mold and rot. Adequate insulation and ventilation are your best allies in preventing condensation in the attic. Your roofing design should include ventilation at soffits, ridges, and/or gables. Look for any stains or signs of mold/mildew inside your attic. Take an occasional peek on sunny cold days and look for any evidence of moisture or drips that may indicate condensation or a leak. Professional energy auditors will be happy to do these inspections for you and make recommendations if they see anything amiss. Energy audits are a great way to get additional recommendations for increasing your metal building's energy efficiency.

Make sure you're designing a metal building that will handle the worst of the winter weather in your neck of the woods. Contact Whirlwind Steel and we'll make sure your roof and gutter systems are tailored to your climate so your building is less susceptible to moisture damage.

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