In terms of wear and tear on buildings, winter is the harshest season of the year. Snow accumulation and ice damming on roofs can be a major headache, pipes freezing and bursting could spell disaster, and just about any accumulation of water means trouble.
Though it’s a tough time of year, association managers, building engineers, and residents can work to prevent weather-related issues in their buildings. Understanding where and why such problems may occur, before they happen, could mean the difference between low-cost solutions and a major renovation.
Simple maintenance steps taken to winterize a building, performed at the right times by qualified pros, can save cash and effort over the long-term. And perhaps the greatest source of winter-connected problems in the building is the spot people seem to look at the least: the roof. Especially during the winter, but really throughout the year, the roof should never be ignored. If left unattended, problems with a roof can affect the building’s façade, structure and foundation.
“There are many ways to winterize a building,” says Steve Hroncich, owner of Adriatic Restoration Corp. in Haworth. “We have applied exterior insulation and finish systems (EIFS) stucco systems to the façade which would help conserve energy, also re-caulking around windows and doors can help as well. For the gutters a heating cable should be installed.”
One of the most common roof problems for some multifamily buildings is ice damming, which is often the result of a faulty roof design. An ice dam is the ridge of ice that builds up along the edge of the roof or through the gutters. When the air temperature is very low, and a roof doesn’t have a steep enough pitch toward the drains, the melted water refreezes at the edge of the roof and through the gutter. This rim of ice traps runoff water, which then backs up onto the roof, seeping under the shingles and leaking inside the building. It also puts a lot of stress on roof seams, gutters, flashing and other elements of the roof system.