While many enjoy early winter's mild weather, building owners and managers know these conditions can soon cause their worst property nightmares.
The freeze-thaw cycle, appropriately-nicknamed "frost shattering," is a process that wreaks havoc on buildings in colder, wet climates, and fluctuating temperatures.
The change in seasons brings an increase of wind and rain, hardening surfaces and making them more fragile. When temperatures drop, freezing water expands by about 10%, causing cracking. Later, while we are busy enjoying uncharacteristically pleasant days, moisture is busy melting, leaving weakened areas vulnerable to future flooding and severe cracking.
Michael Tomasone explains how this happens again and again in a cycle that "breaks up concrete sidewalks as well as brick and block buildings, and also causes leaking windows. Every type of building has similar issues." Concrete, asphalt, rock, stone, brick, and other materials are all affected, everywhere from your pavement to your roof.
In just one season alone, roofing, walls, and other areas of your building that are often left unchecked can deteriorate from small improvements to problematic repairs. Heavy snows, ice dams, and hazardous icicles contribute to trapped moisture that depreciates your surfaces, especially for flat commercial roofing systems. Unlike other common wear-and-tear issues, the freeze-thaw cycle can cause damage that hides until it's too late for a quick fix.
The pressure precipitation puts on your structure is inevitable, but knowledgeable inspections and best practices can make sure your time and budget aren't wasted on unnecessary rehabilitations. Between those hidden weak spots and frigid oncoming storms, there is no better time to secure preventative measures for your property's strength against the elements.