It’s Hail Season: What Does that Mean for Your Commercial Roof?

Hail causes damage amounting to billions of dollars’ worth of losses every year. Not surprising, given that hailstones can get pretty big – the largest on record in the US weighed almost two pounds.

Spring and summer are peak hail seasons, especially in the Midwest, so, if you have a commercial building in that part of the country, hail is likely to fall on it at some point. Even a hailstorm that’s fairly short in duration or small in scope can create damage to your flat roofing system. The extent of the damage can vary, depending on a number of factors, such as the condition and age of the roof and the material underneath (for example, insulation vs. a more rigid cover board).

Once the hailstorm has passed, make it a priority to get on your roof to inspect for damage or hire a professional contractor to assess the situation. Clear visible indicators of roof damage include depressions, tears, or cracks in the membrane. Check carefully, because small cracks and other irregularities can be hard to spot until the roof experiences subsequent weathering. Those small cracks indicate that the membrane has been weakened, and may eventually lead to leak problems.

If the surface seems ok, check rooftop metal components, like HVAC equipment, gutters, and coping, for dents.

For single-ply membrane roofs, in addition to causing immediate problems, hail can compromise the strength of the attachment or adhesion of the membrane to the underlying insulation. Depending on how the system was installed, fasteners can loosen or the adhesive bond between membrane and insulation can separate. Also, hail can dent insulation beneath the membrane, creating gaps between those components. Subsequent severe weather can cause further separation and ultimately, roof failure.

If you’re in the market for a new roof, contact us today. At Great Lakes Roofing and Insulation, we can offer roof system options that can help minimize the effects of hail on your commercial facility.

Best Roofing Contractor Practices

Your commercial roof is one of the most critical parts of the structure, and sooner or later it’s going to need replacing. When it does, it’s vital that you select the right contractor to do the work. Most post-roof-installation problems can be traced to contractor workmanship.

Here are some considerations:

  • Commercial roofing systems vary widely in their technology and how they are installed, and the contractor should have extensive experience with every aspect of the roofing system(s) being considered for the project.
  • The contractor should be trained and authorized by the roofing manufacturer. Many manufacturers have implemented quality rating and recognition programs to ensure that the contractors installing their roofing systems are proficient.
  • For re-roofing projects, the contractor should complete a thorough investigation of the current roof to uncover any problems and/or potential challenges, and then discuss findings with you. This might include cutting through the current roof to determine the condition of components (e.g., insulation) under the membrane, and doing pull tests to ensure that the correct fasteners are chosen for the job.
  • The contractor should have safety as their number one priority, both for workers and building occupants. Before the job starts, there should be an evaluation of potential jobsite safety hazards and ways to mitigate those hazards.

When you choose Great Lakes Roofing and Insulation for your project, you can be confident that your new roof will be installed with quality. Contact us today!

Proper Drainage is Critical for the Health of Your Commercial Roof

Steep-sloped roofs that are typical for single-family homes, especially in the Midwest, obviously are constructed to let water easily flow off. Flat, commercial roofs, on the other hand, although originally built with at least a modest slope, are not always as efficient at drainage. This could be because of blockage or because parts of the roof have settled and no longer have sufficient slope for water flow.

Poor or nonexistent drainage on a commercial roof is a precursor to potentially serious problems. If ponding water is not drained, it can lead to the buildup of debris, compromise rooftop seams and other membrane connection points, promote vegetation/mold growth, and cause structural damage to the facility itself (water weighs about five pounds per inch of depth, per square foot of roof surface).

The solution may be as easy as ensuring that rooftop drainage systems – drains, gutters, scuppers, and downspouts – are clear of debris and allow water to flow freely. Although intended to accomplish the same goal (moving water off the rooftop), they each function differently.

Rooftop drains channel water down through the building and out at ground level or into a sewer. Scuppers and gutters are similar, in that they both direct water off the perimeter of the roof. They should connect to downspouts that direct water down and well away from the building and walkways. At the time your building was constructed, one or more of these drainage systems were designed and installed to be appropriate for and properly integrated with the roof.

However, even the best drainage systems can become clogged over time, especially after storms or when snow has accumulated. The simple and low-cost fix: do a regular rooftop and drainage inspection to ensure that water is able to flow freely at all points.

If your roof has settled over time to where slopes have minimized or disappeared, more extensive fixes may be required. This may include adjusting the roof slope with crickets (triangular structures installed on the rooftop to direct water) or tapered insulation to eliminate ponding water by providing positive drainage. These can be typically handled by a commercial roofing contractor. Structural building damage needs the attention of a qualified facility engineer.

At Great Lakes Roofing & Insulation, we understand all aspects of commercial roofing and can help you address your rooftop drainage problems. Give us a call today! 989-575-0190

Commercial Roofing Maintenance in the Winter

Commercial roof maintenance in the winter

Don’t stop thinking about maintenance for your commercial roof when the calendar rolls around to winter. Your roof keeps your facility protected during this harsh weather season; return the favor and make sure it’s able to provide watertight protection. Here are some things to keep in mind with respect to winter roof maintenance.

Conduct occasional spot checks and inspections. This is especially important after a significant wind and/or precipitation event. Seemingly small problems can become big ones in the winter if water penetrates your roofing membrane and goes through multiple freeze and thaw cycles. In addition to membrane holes and cracks, keep an eye out for seams that may have developed gaps, especially around flashings and other transitions.

Your drains, gutters and downspouts need to be clear and running freely to carry water away from your building. Fall and winter storms can drop leaves and branches from nearby trees. This debris can clog drainage systems and when water doesn’t drain it can freeze and cause serious problems, including ice dams on shingled roofs. Make sure scuppers around your roof perimeter as well as drains on the rooftop are unblocked. Remember that falling branches can puncture roof membranes, so inspect for those issues as well.

Roof materials expand and contract with temperature fluctuations. Cold-weather stresses can compromise the integrity of membrane seams, create gaps in metal or plastic edging around the perimeter of your building and cause other problems. Your winter rooftop inspection should include documenting and repairing any issues along these lines.

When you’re on the rooftop be safe. A commercial roof can be hazardous in good weather, but it becomes much more so when it’s snow-covered and slippery.

If you’d like to leave your wintertime (or anytime) roof inspections to a professional, the roofing pros at Great Lakes Roofing and Insulation would welcome the opportunity to discuss your needs with you. Please contact us at your convenience.

The Snow on Your Commercial Roof is a Weighty Issue

If you own or manage a commercial property in the northern part of the US, you’re probably diligent about keeping it clear for customers and other building traffic. But the roof, being “out of sight, out of mind,” might get less of your attention. That can be a problem, as accumulated snow on the rooftop can create potentially hazardous issues, if your building structure can’t handle the weight.

An easy winter with minimal snowfall may not matter too much. Six inches of dry light snow weighs about a pound and a half per square foot – probably ok. But if it’s wet, heavy snow, that same six inches can weigh ten pounds per square foot. In that case, a mere hundred square feet (10×10) will add 1000 pounds to your roof. That’s a much more serious proposition and if your building structure can’t handle the weight, you’re putting people and property at risk.

During a winter with substantial precipitation, you should include visits to your rooftop as part of your maintenance plan. Because there are likely to be freeze and thaw cycles when snow will melt, make sure that your drainage system is able to handle the flow of water. Backed up drains, gutters and downspouts can cause water to pond on your roof. And if that freezes into multiple layers of ice that grows to three inches thick, that 10×10 area will carry an additional weight of 1500 pounds.

So, it makes sense to clear accumulated snow and ice from your roof. When you do:

  • Do it safely. Roofs can be unsafe when they’re clear and dry; when covered with snow, they are even more so. Crews should be especially cautious around the perimeter and near skylights, which may be hidden from view by snow.
  • Know where the snow will go. When removing it, take care not to dump it onto walkways or near doorways. You should also avoid dropping onto sensitive plantings.
  • Use the right tools. Don’t use metal shovels with sharp edges. These can damage single -ply roof membranes and then you’ll have bigger problems – especially in the spring when snow melts and water finds its way through those new holes. Also, if you’ve got ice to remove, use a product that’s compatible with your roof membrane. Check with the manufacturer on what would be appropriate.

If you have questions about wintertime roof care, please call the commercial roofing professionals at Great Lakes Roofing and Insulation 989-575-0190. We’re operating year-round to provide you with excellent service.

Make Sure You’ve Got the Right Roofing Contractor on Your Team

A successful commercial roofing installation requires a team approach. As a building owner or manager, you should include yourself in that mix, along with someone from your maintenance staff and perhaps a person who handles your organization’s financial responsibilities. Depending on how big or complex a project is, companies might bring in an architect or roof consultant for their advice.

The roof system manufacturer can also play a part, by helping you qualify installers who work with their system, helping you understand their product warranties, and being available with post-job support, if necessary, among other things.

Ultimately and obviously, the contractor who installs the roof is the most critical member of the roofing team. Make sure you choose the right one. Here are some qualities to look for.

They have a clear strategy. A new commercial roof installation can range from a relatively simple and small re-cover to a large tear-off that includes new insulation, edge details, deck sheets, parapets, and other components. Regardless of the situation, your contractor should have a plan for completing the project on time and on budget; there should be no surprises.

They are clean and organized. Your first indication of how a roofer measures up is the appearance of their sales rep and vehicle when they arrive at your facility. As the saying goes, neatness counts, and the condition of their clothing, truck and other equipment can be a reflection of the company they represent. Your roofing project will require supplies, tools, and other materials, and these should be well-organized on the jobsite. During and after the job, the roofing crew should be diligent about cleaning up tools, fasteners, membrane trimmings, packaging and other materials and equipment.

They stay in touch. Your commercial roofing project is a complex operation that can take place over several days or even weeks. The contractor you’re working with should be readily accessible and communicative from the beginning of the sales process through the completion of the job – and beyond. You’re investing a lot of money to make sure your building stays watertight for years to come; pick a contractor who is responsive to your needs.

The commercial roofing professionals at Great Lakes Roofing & Insulation bring all these qualities to every project. We would be proud to be part of your team! We look forward to your call.


There’s Water on the Floor of Your Commercial Building. Now What?

Get the right professionals involved. The moisture could be from any number of sources: Yes, it could be a roofing problem. But it could also come from a window that’s not sealed properly; burst pipes or another hard-to-locate plumbing failure; rooftop HVAC units that are not draining properly, which is the most commonly misdiagnosed source of water coming from above. Each of these areas requires its own technical specialist to locate and solve the problem.

Of course, it’s critical that you identify and correct the source of the leak as soon as possible. Water on the floor presents slip-and-fall / workers compensation risks for your operation. Water on the floor can also permeate walls, creating an environment for mold and subsequently human health issues to develop. And you certainly want to avoid exposing your investment in computers, production equipment, inventory, and other assets to water damage.

Here are three bits of wisdom for dealing with and preventing the prospect of water inside your commercial building.

  • Occupant safety should be your first priority, so mop or vacuum the water from the floor and keep foot traffic away with orange cones and/or signs until the situation is corrected. Move furniture and equipment out of the way. If necessary and possible, place buckets or other receptacles under drips to collect water. As part of this activity, document the damage with photos for insurance claims.
  • Conduct regular inspections of your roof. The roof’s age and every passing year mean a higher risk of your commercial roof developing problems. Keep an eye out for membrane gaps, detached flashings, and other irregularities. Also, do a check of your rooftop HVAC units for signs of problems – like loose panels or water collecting underneath. Remember: get the right professional in to fix the problem.
  • Include roof repairs in your facility management budget. Over time, there are bound to be weather events or other activities that can compromise your roof’s ability to remain watertight. Your maintenance staff may be able to handle some issues; others may require a professional commercial roofing contractor. Regardless, ignoring relatively minor low-cost problems now may come back to bite you down the road by turning into expensive repairs and remediation.

Whether you’re experiencing leaks or not, the commercial roofing professionals at Great Lakes Roofing and Insulation would be privileged to meet with you to discuss your short-term and long-term roofing needs. We look forward to your call (906) 647-2916.


Your Commercial Roof Is Watertight. What Else Does It Offer?

Your roof’s primary requirement is to keep your commercial building watertight and protected from the elements. And if you choose Great Lakes Roofing and Insulation to install your new roofing system, you can be confident that we’ll make that happen. But beyond that, what other benefits can you expect to see from your investment? Here are a few possibilities.

White thermoplastic roofing systems are highly reflective and have a documented history of delivering energy savings on commercial facilities throughout North America. If you own or manage a warehouse, agricultural building, or another non-air-conditioned facility, a reflective roof can help create a cooler working environment and promote higher worker productivity.

Studies have shown that reflective roof membranes help preserve the life and effectiveness of underlying insulation by reflecting the IR and UV radiation than other roof types absorb. This benefit means that your insulation won’t degrade over time and will help your HVAC systems run more efficiently in all seasons.

Increasingly, building owners are taking more of a “good neighbor” approach with respect to community responsibility, and roofing can help accomplish that goal. The phenomenon is known as “urban heat islands” occurs on hot days when city temperatures go higher than those in surrounding rural areas. In addition to putting additional strain on power grids, UHIs foster the development of smog, a contributor to respiratory ailments. By reflecting solar heat back into the atmosphere, cool roofs help mitigate the UHI effect.

Also, building owners are beginning to generate their own power with rooftop solar systems. In some parts of the country, the cost of doing this is comparable to the cost of buying power from the utility company – a concept known as “grid parity.” If you’re in the market for rooftop solar, consider replacing your existing roof (possibly showing signs of age) with a new one. If your roof fails after the solar system is installed, replacing it will be a much more difficult and costly venture. The same principle applies to vegetative roof systems, also becoming more commonplace.

In all, there are several environmental benefits that you can expect by installing a new, highly reflective – and watertight – roofing system. Please call us at (906) 647-2916 for more details.

Is Your Old Roof Costing You Money? Install a New Cool Roof!


If your roof is 15 years old or more, chances are you’ll need to replace it soon. When you’re ready, Great Lakes Roofing would welcome the opportunity to propose a new cool roofing system.

In addition to increased repair and maintenance costs on your old roof, if it’s a black membrane or built-up system, it’s likely costing you money because of higher energy bills. Dark roofing materials absorb summertime heat and transfer it to the interior of the building, creating a costly burden on HVAC systems. On the other hand, white single-ply membranes reflect heat, lowering air-conditioning costs and creating a cooler, more productive environment for workers in non-conditioned spaces.

HVAC units on a cool roof can work less hard because the air they’re cooling for transfer to the building can be 50 degrees or more cooler than the air hovering on a black roof. That translates to less money you spend on cooling energy costs, and less wear and tear on your HVAC system.

Here’s a plus: Installation costs for cool roofs are comparable to those for other roofing systems but have a shorter payback period because of the money you’ll save on cooling.

Give us a call today at (906) 647-2916 and let us show you how a new cool roofing system can benefit your operation.


duro-last prefabricated roofing

Choose A Prefabricated Duro-Last Roof for a Hassle-Free Installation

Most single-ply roofing systems are delivered to the job site as roll goods that have to be positioned carefully on the rooftop to ensure a proper fit. They also require lots of manual labor to seam membrane sections together. For example, on a 50,000 square-foot roof, a typical roll-goods roofing system could require as much as 13,000 linear feet of seaming by hand – that’s about 2-1/2 miles.

On the same roof, the Duro-Last roofing system would require only 1300 linear feet of rooftop seaming. That’s because Duro-Last roofs are prefabricated under controlled factory conditions in a manufacturing facility. This approach to roof production greatly reduces the likelihood of rooftop installation errors and future leak problems.

Studies of roof failures show that most problems occur because of installation errors – much of which can be attributed to manual rooftop seaming. Duro-Last prefabrication eliminates most of this, greatly reducing the likelihood of installation errors and leak problems in the future.

Also important is that a prefabricated Duro-Last roof can be installed by Great Lakes Roofing without disrupting your day-to-day operation. And, because less rooftop labor is installed, we can be off your roof more quickly than with other systems.

In addition to being custom prefabricated, the Duro-Last roofing system is durable, energy-efficient, code compliant and backed by the industry’s best warranties. Contact us today about a new roof for your facility.