Winter Effects Lead to Spring Defects

Springtime cannot come soon enough for many parts of the country. Along with the warmer temperatures and nature’s awakening, however, late winter/early spring is also a time when many commercial roofs incur thermal shock from dramatic temperature fluctuations.

Temperature swings can actually cause the roof to move in and out from contraction and expansion. It should be no surprise that the degree of damage from thermal shock is often dependent upon the age of the roof. A newer commercial roof should be able to better withstand dramatic temperature changes because it should boast greater elongation and tensile strength.

Elongation and Tensile Strength
  • Elongation is essentially how far, in a percentage, at which a roof membrane will go from its initial state to its final state when pulling it. The best comparison is a rubber band – how far it will stretch is considered elongation.
  • Tensile strength is how much force is needed to actually break that rubber band once you stretch it far enough.

An older roof membrane is naturally more vulnerable to the effects of thermal shock because of diminishing elasticity and flexibility.

Freeze/Thaw Cycle

Science has taught us that water can easily seep into even extremely small openings. It also expands as it freezes, which enlarges an opening. That means a small split or tear in a roof membrane can worsen, resulting in a full-blown roof leak that can damage your building’s interior, equipment and inventory.

It’s difficult to determine the condition of your roof without a professional inspection. According to, it is recommended to have your roof inspected at least twice a year, once in the spring and once in the fall. In between those professional inspections, it’s also beneficial to do some preventative maintenance of your own. (see graphic below)

Roofing Maintenance Tips To Do On Your Own
Roofing Maintenance Tips To Do On Your Own

Professional inspections and maintenance will not only help to identify small problems before they become major expenses, but will also accurately determine a roof’s remaining life. Armed with that knowledge, you’ll be well equipped to know whether your roof might qualify for a restoration instead of spending money on an unnecessary replacement.

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