Hurricane preparedness

How To Prepare Your Commercial Roof for Hurricanes and Other Major Storms

We still have two more months of hurricane season to go this year so don’t let your guard down just yet.

While it’s not likely we’ll get another Irma this season, metro Atlanta is no stranger to severe storms. No matter where you live, the best way to help your roof weather bad storms is to be ready for them before they arrive. Don’t let strong winds, heavy rain and flying debris damage your roofing system if you can prevent it.

How severe storms may impact your roof

While your roof can probably handle a normal storm without any problems, extreme storms can stress roofing systems beyond their capacities, particularly along roof edges where materials may have become loose. Low-slope roofs can be vulnerable at corners, seams and flashing areas, and older roofs or roofs that haven’t been well-maintained are especially susceptible. Properties may also experience significant leaks if drainage systems get obstructed or overwhelmed — you don’t want a lot of water pooling up on your roof.

You also don’t want any tree limbs coming down on your roof or debris flying around up there, of course. This can puncture roof membranes or otherwise damage roofing systems.

Here’s what commercial property owners should do to protect their roofing systems before hurricane season starts, when a hurricane is on the way, and after a hurricane passes.

What to do before hurricane season

  • Get an annual roof maintenance program — it’s the best way to ensure your roof and drainage system are working properly at all times, minor issues are resolved before they get worse, and you have written records of your roof’s condition, including photos.
  • Have your roof inspected before June 1. Hurricane season is from June 1 through November 30.
  • Have a tree service remove limbs that could damage your roofing system.
  • Review your commercial roof warranties and insurance policies to see if you need to fill any gaps.
  • Develop a three-year capital budget that takes severe storms into consideration.
  • If you’ll be needing a new roof or major repairs soon, look at scheduling the work before the next hurricane season.

What to do when the storm is a day or two away

  • Remove any debris and loose objects that have accumulated on your roof since the last maintenance visit — they can damage or clog your drainage system or damage someone else’s property (or their person) if they fly off your roof.
  • Confirm all AC units and other equipment like exhaust vents, fan covers and solar panels are securely attached.
  • Confirm all flashing is securely attached.
  • Protect skylights with plywood or caps.
  • Test the drainage system and remove any obstructions — you don’t want pooling on your roof
  • Schedule your post-storm inspection so you get a better place in line (schedules after storms fill fast).
  • Take photos! You may need evidence of our roof’s pre-storm condition.

Also look for items on the building or on the ground that might be thrown around during a bad storm, like signs and trash cans. Either secure them or bring them inside.

What to do after the storm passes

  1. If you notice leaking, call your roofing contractor right away. If it’s still storming outside it’s not likely they can come immediately because of safety reasons but get on their schedule as soon as you can.
  2. If there’s a major issue with your roof that could endanger anyone, call 911.
  3. Call your insurance company as soon as possible to begin the claim process.
  4. Beware of hiring roofing contractors you don’t already know — storms bring out the scammers.
  5. Make sure your roofing contractor takes photos of any damage before and after they make repairs. You’ll need this for insurance.
  6. Don’t try to fix leaks yourself. Sometimes temporary fixes can make the situation worse.

What Sentry Roof does differently during significant weather events

Sentry modifies our regular procedures during hurricanes and other major storms so we can protect the property of as many clients as possible. Our goals are to:

  • Respond to each of our client’s’ requests for service as fast as possible.
  • Send qualified, experienced leak-repair specialists to provide triage-level repairs that stop leaks for the short-term and allow us to quickly move on to the next client’s roof.
  • Once all emergency repairs have been made, return to each property to repair the leak properly, bringing it up to our usual standards and maintain our clients’ warranties.

When we return we also check for other damage that may have occurred during the storm.

We received hundreds of repair calls after hurricane Irma hit metro Atlanta and we’re happy to report we were able to take care of everyone quickly despite having lost power at our location for the week. We’re fortunate that we have excellent cloud-based software, powerful generators (typically used for heat welding roof membranes), and, most importantly, the best, most dedicated crews in the business.

We recommend that all property owners have their roofs inspected after major storms whether they notice leaks or not — there could be damage that can cause leaks soon. If you’re in the metro Atlanta area and would like a roof inspection or want to subscribe to our Sentry Roof Care annual maintenance program, please contact us. The steps you can take now to protect your roofing system and property from major storms and hurricanes are straightforward and extremely cost effective. This is definitely one of those situations where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

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