When severe weather blasts through a community, hundreds and possibly thousands of homes and other structures may suffer some degree of water damage and storm damage to the roof. In some situations, the sudden catastrophic failure of a roof is the result of multiple incidents, each event weakening key components of the roof structure until a catastrophic failure occurs. A roof will present certain signs that indicate an impending collapse.
Failure to notice these signs and take appropriate action creates risk hazards for the property owner. Employees and customers are put at risk of injury from falling debris or a slip-and-fall injury from the water intrusion. Depending on the size of the collapse, business operations may be disrupted, interrupting the flow of goods and services to clients and customers. Equipment, machinery, inventory, and electronics are vulnerable to water damage. If the roof failure occurs in a home, the family may be forced to move out for a while. The resulting chaos and confusion are traumatic for everyone, including the pets. A damaged or collapsed roof allows rain to enter the home or business until the roof is tarped, temporarily patched, or fully repaired.
Signs of a Potential Roof Collapse
Regular inspections and preventative maintenance are more desirable than a major repair and recovery effort. It is crucial to identify any signs of roof issues that indicate a possible collapse. Here is what Newtown Square, PA, property owners need to know.
1. Weather-related damage
Wind and water damage can compromise the integrity of a roof. If heavy rainfall overwhelms roof drains, the weight of the accumulating water could collapse a portion of the roof. Thousands of gallons of water could flow into the structure, damaging equipment, raw product, and finished goods. Warm-weather downpours are not the only roof risk hazard.
During the cold months, snow accumulation exerts constant stress on a roof. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Delaware County received 27.6 inches of snow on January 7, 1996, the snowiest day on record for the county. The “Blizzard of 96” blanketed the Northeast, causing widespread roof damage from ice dams. Several buildings in the region experienced catastrophic roof failures, including a nursing home.
A severe weather event should heighten awareness and prompt inspections for roof damage and a potential water intrusion.
A roof collapse is the result of an incremental process of forces that weaken a roof. A total roof collapse typically requires an extreme force, such as would be seen during a tornado. The weakest areas of the roof begin to show the first signs of pending danger. A sagging roof is a signal to schedule an immediate inspection by a licensed, reputable roofing contractor.
3. Bowing and bending roof supports
A sign of structural stress is rippling or bowing in roof supports. When this sign of roof trouble manifests itself, the property owner or facilities manager must take immediate action to discover the source of the stress on the supports.
4. Hairline fractures and cracks in masonry
Shifting and bowing can cause cracks in a building’s brick façade, and cracks may develop in the foundation as well. The source may be the normal settling that every building experiences, but fractures and cracks can also be caused by changes in the structural integrity of the roof.
The interior ceiling and walls of a home or building can send signals of a possible roof catastrophe and water intrusion. The first inclination is to focus on the foundation. This initial reaction has merit. When searching for the causes of the structural damage, look down at the foundation, but also remember to look up at the roof.
5. Roof leaks
An unmistakable warning sign that the roof has been compromised is a roof leak. A leak indicates that the roof structure is being penetrated by water and moisture. This leak, if not resolved, will have a growing negative impact on the roof. Leaks do not remain localized. As the roof issues grow, so do leaks. Leaks are a warning to the homeowner to locate the breach in the roof and identify the underlying causes of this breach in structural integrity before a devastating collapse takes place.
6. Other signs the roof might be in danger of collapsing
Unexplained creaking, windows and doors that refuse to close quietly and snugly, and leaking sprinkler heads that appear to be out of alignment also indicate potential roof problems.
Time for an Inspection and Rapid Action
When any of these signs are detected, the time for a thorough inspection is immediate. An unrelenting downpour, high winds, or a heavy snowfall can overwhelm a roof and bring portions crashing to the floor or flying into the neighbor’s yard. When a significant property damage disaster occurs, call the professionals at SERVPRO of Media. Available 24/7, 365 days a year, the cleanup and restoration team rapidly responds with the training, certifications, equipment, and skills to quickly restore the property to its pre-disaster condition.