Is the office always too hot in the summer and too cold in the winter? Does it sometimes seem like your heating and cooling system is on the fritz? As it turns out, your HVAC unit may not actually be possessed (though there's nothing wrong with getting it inspected – or exorcized). The more likely explanation is that your roof is not pulling its weight.
An industrial roofing contractor can diagnose the specific cause of your roofing system's failure. In general, your fluctuating indoor air temperatures may be attributed to any of the following commercial roofing properties.
Infrared radiation from the sun, or heat, is just like other forms of light. It can be reflected or absorbed. When it is absorbed, the object gains energy and becomes hotter. Likewise, when heat is reflected, the object gains little to no additional energy and remains cooler. Thus, roofing for cooler climates should absorb heat, while roofing for hotter climates should reflect it. So how can we ensure whether our commercial roofing is reflecting or absorbing? It depends in part on the materials and colors used.
Your roofing material plays a role in temperature management due to its thermal mass. Thermal mass refers to an object's capacity to absorb and store heat. Materials with high thermal mass can capture a large amount of the sun's heat without becoming warmer. Because they are typically slow to absorb heat, they are also slow to release it. Therefore, they can act as heat sources during cold periods (such as nighttime) and sponges during warm periods (like high noon). The best thermal mass materials for roofing are dense, heavy conductors of heat such as metal, clay, and tile.
The color of your roof matters more for your heating and cooling costs than your aesthetic tastes. Darker colors absorb more light, which can be helpful if you could use a heating boost to cope with a cold regional climate. Conversely, lighter colors are ideal for warmer, sunnier climates because of their ability to reflect light.
Insulation is a crucial component not to be overlooked. It works alongside other parts of your commercial roofing system to lock in the inside temperature while keeping the opposing heat or cold outside. Damaged insulation due to water leakage, pest infestations, or improper installation may fail to maintain this separation between the indoors and outdoors.
Ventilation of the building's attic space is crucial to regulating indoor temperatures. Most roofing systems incorporate a system of vents that pull fresh air inside while pushing stagnant air outside. Without a proper way to vent, the space directly underneath the roof is prone to building up too much hot or cold air, which can be transferred to the building interior.
Unstable indoor temperatures are, at best, a distraction and inconvenience to you and your employees. At worst, however, it can be a health concern as a source of dangerous working conditions. If your roof is not functioning properly to distribute heat and keep the building insulated and ventilated, you may need repairs or a new roof. Schedule your regular commercial roofing inspection and ask your expert roofer for recommendations on your unique heating and cooling concerns.