The Definitive Canadian Winter Roofing Checklist for Property Owners and Developers

winter roofing checklist in toronto.

Do you have a practical winter roofing checklist for the Greater Toronto Area? If not, this professional roofing guide is sure to come in handy.

The long and harsh Canadian winter is far from over, so we can expect more snow, ice, and freezing temperatures. If you’re a commercial and industrial building owner, property manager, or developer in the Greater Toronto Area, it’s not too late to apply the guidelines to:

  • Reduce the risk of costly property damage
  • Reduce liability for winter-related trip and slip and fall injuries
  • Protect equipment and vehicles
  • Improve the safety of roofing crews, employees, and bystanders

Read on to find out the critical steps to prepare yourself and get through whatever winter throws at us.

1. Guard Against Leaks and Damage Caused by Moisture and Condensation

The risk of condensation is higher in winter. Watch for telltale signs of moisture on inside surfaces around roof penetrations such as skylights, roof hatches, mechanical equipment and exhaust vents. Take appropriate preventive steps, such as:

  • Ensure proper ventilation and air circulation
  • Lower the building’s humidity control levels
  • Run dehumidifiers
  • Circulate air in likely condensation areas
  • Consider thermally enhanced exhaust vents or roof hatches

2. Guard Against Wind Damage

High winds can lead to roof uplift, displaced ballast or insulation, and damaged flashing or metal copings. Here are ways for building owners and developers to protect against wind damage:

  • Schedule an annual fall inspection of your commercial roof to identify loose metal copings and/or counterflashings, unsecured equipment, loose materials, worn-out flashings, and leaks around HVAC systems and skylights.
  • Have a professional roofer inspect to identify any damage after storms with high winds.
  • Make sure that all equipment on the roof is fully secured.  
  • Keep the roof tidy and remove debris in a timely manner.

3. Minimize the Effects of Snow Drifts

A massive snow load may be more than the roof structure can handle, as can an unbalanced snow load and drifts caused by roof projections, parapets, changes in rooftop elevation, or rooftop equipment.

  • Ensure that drainage systems are clear of debris after major snowstorms.
  • Ensure that roof membrane and metal counterflashings on the backside of the high parapets and knee walls is in serviceable condition.  
  • Hire a company with experience removing snow and ice from your flat roof as a last resort.

4. Quickly Attend to Ceiling Cracks and Punctures

Winter weather, the freeze-thaw cycle, dense hail, falling debris, humidity and dislodged equipment can leave holes, tears, and cracks in the roof or expose the roofing substrate.

  • Repair cracks, punctures, and other damage as quickly as possible or the problem is likely to grow, leading to more expensive repairs.  
  • Cover any exposed areas and potential sources of leaks with tarps or other protective materials until temporary or permanent repairs can be made.
  • Limit service traffic on the roof in winter, and consider adding walkway pads for extra protection.
  • Where practical, defer construction that requires using the roof as a staging area until warmer, dryer weather. 

5. Professionally Inspect the Roof before Winter Hits and After Weather Events

A licensed contractor should inspect the roof before winter starts and make necessary repairs to ensure it is in good condition. As winter progress, following these steps:

  • After major winter weather events, perform a visual inspection (only if conditions are safe).
  • Follow a visual inspection with a roof inspection by a qualified professional inspector who will be able to spot issues not visible to the untrained eye.

Call Your Roofer Immediately if You Spot These Warning Signs:

  • Active leaks in the roof membrane
  • Excessive snow drifts
  • Larger than normal amounts of ponding water
  • Visible signs of roof deflection or sagging
  • Blocked drains, gutters, and downspouts, and ice dams
  • Blocked vents and exhaust equipment
  • Causes of potential punctures, such as overhanging tree limbs or debris left on the roof
  • Damaged membrane upturns
  • Loose or abandoned rooftop equipment

Follow This Winter Roofing Checklist for Property Protection and Employee Safety

Roofing work during the winter months requires attention, expertise, and preparation. Trust the right company to complete your roofing projects safely and successfully this season, allowing your building to function at peak performance and providing your employees with the work environment they need. If you require winter roofing maintenance or repair, plan ahead. Contact us for high-quality workmanship and reliable service.