It’s the ultimate facility management nightmare; mighty winds pummeling the roof, shifting ballast and separating the membrane from the roof deck. Mother Nature has a mind of her own, and while you can’t stop the wind, you can reduce the risk of damage from normal wind speeds in your region. Unlike the heavy wind that greets you when you walk around the corner of a building, strong winds push and pull at the roof level on the roofing system. The risk to the roof depends on many factors, including where the building is located, what type of roof system and attachment method were used, the age of the roof and whether it’s been frequently maintained, or neglected, over the years.
What’s Happening Up There?
Typically, roofs fail during high wind events because negative pressure builds up at the roof’s perimeter, resulting in wind uplift. As high winds roll over a parapet wall, they create a strong pulling force behind the roof’s edge on the flashing and membrane. The higher the wind speeds, the greater the negative force in this area. Wind damage is progressive. Over time, as the roof faces repeated assaults, which can shift ballast and loosen the membrane, each subsequent high-wind event is more likely to damage the roof.
Damage from Blowing Debris
Low-slope roofs should withstand typical wind speeds in their respective geographic regions, but it’s virtually impossible to guarantee them from tornadic winds that can easily exceed 100 mph. Intense updrafts, bringing a swirling “rain of debris” are destructive enough to drive tree limbs and glass shards through the roof. Even straight-line gale force winds can throw damaging debris on the roof that can weaken or penetrate the membrane. Checking that wind uplift did not occur around the roof’s perimeter is not sufficient after a major wind event. The entire surface of the roof must be inspected.
If you’re located in an area that characteristically experiences high winds, the roof should be designed with that in mind. Faulty installation or choosing the wrong roofing system contributes to roof failure during a windstorm. Roofing system manufacturers will not stand behind their material warranties if a system was not installed correctly of if the winds exceeded the maximum wind speed for a specific type of roof.
Minimize Roof Wind Damage Risk
You can reduce the risk of roof failure from repeated high wind cycles by having the roof inspected and promptly repaired after major wind events, and by adopting a regular maintenance plan. At North American Roofing, we take the guesswork out of protecting your roof. Whether you need a new roof, a roof replacement, recover or a regular maintenance plan to reduce the risk of roof wind damage – we can help. We install and service commercial roofs in every city, in every state.