Owning a business involves many moving parts, and most business owners don’t think about the structure of their building, including the roof, until a problem occurs. As many business owners can attest, owning a business in a coastal town comes with its own set of challenges, perhaps the most prominent being the risk of hurricanes. Hurricanes can range from a strong thunderstorm to a complete devastation of everything in its path. Fortunately, the Sarasota & Bradenton area has been lucky for several decades when it comes to avoiding the worst that hurricanes can potentially bring.
In any case, summer brings weather that is meant to be taken seriously, and that includes securing your commercial roof in preparation for the wind, rain and strength of these storms. This guide is meant to act as a checklist to ensure you don’t miss any steps in the process of preparing your commercial roof for hurricane season.
First and foremost, it is crucial to have an established plan in place prior to hurricane season. Your plan should include making sure that your employees are informed of the plan and that they understand it and their part in it, as well as keeping your finger on the pulse of the weather every day of hurricane season. . Weather patterns tend to change quickly and in some cases, drastically. The sooner you’re aware of a potential weather event, the more well-prepared you can be.
Here are some steps you can take to prepare for an impending storm:
- Establish and follow a preventative maintenance plan. Your roof should be inspected semiannually to check for cracks, debris buildup and to ensure that there is proper drainage and no standing water. Some roofs should never be walked on, so it’s important to allow a knowledgeable roofing professional to perform the inspection.
- Make necessary repairs ASAP. If your roof has any problems, no matter how small, they should be remedied prior to a storm to make sure the roof can withstand the elements of the incoming weather.
- Secure your HVAC. Make sure any rooftop equipment is secured by hurricane straps.
- Clear surrounding vegetation. Trim nearby trees enough to make sure that the branches are at least three feet from the building.
- Protect your skylights. Today’s skylights, especially those in hurricane-prone areas, are made with impact-resistant glass, which should still be covered with skylight hurricane covers in preparation of a major storm. Older skylights can be retrofitted with extruded “bulletproof” plastic for a relatively low price (again, they should still be covered during a storm). Hurricane covers for skylights can be custom-ordered and can actually provide non-storm-related benefits all year long, such as reduced glare, increased AC efficiency and building aesthetics.
- Inspect roof access points. Doors, windows and skylights should be maintained to ensure proper functionality and should be securely fastened and sealed during a storm.
- Double-check your insurance policy. Make sure your premiums are up-to-date, know what is covered in the event of a natural disaster and understand the exclusions by reading the small print.
- Update your emergency contacts. Make sure you have all the important contact info at hand in case of storm damage: your property insurance company, water restoration company, commercial roofers and any other service provider that may be needed when the weather clears.
After the Storm
When the storm has passed, carefully assess the inside and outside of the building for any damage that may have been sustained to your commercial roof.
Assess the interior ceilings. If any water was able to penetrate the roof, move any items that could be damaged by the water to safety and take note of where the water came in.
Document any and all damage. Video record of your walkthrough, noting any new damage caused by the storm. Take photos of the damage, as well, as these will be required by the insurance company.
Call your insurance agent. If damage is found, file a claim with your insurance agency as soon as possible. Have your policy handy as well as your video and photo evidence of sustained damage.
Call all other necessary service providers. Contact your roofer to assess the roof and to fix the damage if any was incurred. You may need to contact a water remediation company, the local electric company, property insurance (for damaged items) and/or an HVAC company to get your business back up and running.
The process of storm preparation can be overwhelming, but taking the necessary steps ahead of time will make it much less so. Call AKVM for commercial roof inspections, repairs or replacement, as well as preventative maintenance to minimize the impact of weather conditions on your business.