Why is it important that commercial property owners and managers stay on top of roof maintenance? The answer is simple: to achieve a long service life for your roofing system at the lowest cost, you need to treat the investments that you’ve made, i.e., your facilities’ assets, properly.
When you take an “out of sight, out of mind” attitude toward your roofing systems, you’ll be selling yourself as well as the other stakeholders who’ve invested in your property. Every single day, your building is exposed to the elements and experiences some degree of wear and tear. Failure to be proactive about maintenance and repairs will cost you in the long run.
If you take an overly laid back stance toward roof maintenance and upkeep, you could very well set yourself up for serious roof issues — including premature roof failure. A small leak may seem inconsequential, but if it’s not addressed it will worsen and can cause serious damage that might interrupt your business, leading to profit loss.
Unfortunately, most property managers aren’t as proactive as they should be about roof maintenance. Often, seemingly small issues are ignored — up until they become totally un-ignorable. If a small leak appears, it’s tempting to take the easy route and just patch it up where the water is visible, rather than going to the trouble of pinpointing the source of the leak. This is the equivalent of putting a Band-Aid on the problem.
It isn’t until the water starts pouring down in buckets that any serious action is taken. And the result is far costlier repairs that cause much bigger headaches. Here are some interesting statistics:
A huge number of roofs in the U.S. — more than 80 percent — are replaced prematurely.
Building owners typically spend over $127,500 on roof repair and maintenance over the building’s lifetime.
A new 10,000 square foot commercial roof averages a cost of more than $42,500.
New roofing installation in Seattle, WA, or roof replacement often costs thousands of dollars more than what repairs, maintenance and/or roof restoration would.
Roof maintenance programs are tax deductible, and typically cost only about 1 to 3 percent per year of estimated total replacement costs.
Compared to replacing your roof every 15-20 years, a roof maintenance program can save up to 50 percent over the life of a 30-year roof.
Roof leaks can go unnoticed inside a building for days, weeks or months.
From the Get-go
Once you’ve replaced your roof, the next step is to hire a reputable contractor that can custom design an effective proactive maintenance plan for your system. Most roofing manufacturers’ warranties place the responsibility of maintenance firmly on the shoulders of the property owner. Building and property owners know to tap the services of commercial roofing contractors in Seattle that run separate, dedicated roof maintenance divisions. A comprehensive maintenance package offered by such a company would include:
• Roof inspections (at least twice yearly) and before and after severe weather events
• Photographic, digital and/or written documentation of the roof conditions
• Scheduled routine maintenance and repairs for deficient conditions
Existing roof systems would benefit from a thorough roof audit by a qualified roofing contractor. This will help develop a suitable proactive maintenance protocol that will enable you to maximize the service life of your commercial roofing system.
Below is our recommended Roof Maintenance Checklist to help ensure that you don’t overlook any of the elements that require inspection. Your completed checklist can likewise serve as proof of proper maintenance should you need to submit an insurance or warranty claim.
Here’s what to include in your checklist:
1. Interior Signs of Roof Problems. Examine your building’s interior for signs of water damage such as mold and mildew, water stains and peeling paint. This will alert you to look for possible entry points for water on the roof above. (Note: leaks can travel sideways through a building, so the cause of the damage may not be directly above.)
2. Check for dirt and debris, which can clog drains and cause roofing surfaces to rot or decay prematurely. Check for fallen tree limbs that can damage roof membranes and have tree maintenance scheduled regularly as well.
3. Check the surface area or field of the roof, especially for low spots with standing water on flat roofs. Look for signs of damage or weathering, blistering, cracking, abrasions or deep scratches, and tears or holes in the membrane. Note any fungus or moss growing on the roof, and have it removed.
4. Inspect expansion joints thoroughly for cuts, gaps and tears.
5. Flashings, roof edges, terminations, expansion and control joints. If you have flashings installed, make sure they are not pulling away from the roof or leaving gaps, as this may indicate the presence of leaks or serious damage to your roof membrane.
6. Drains, scuppers, gutters. Backed up water, moss, watermarks, and mold all point to clogged drains. Pay immediate attention to deteriorated or damaged flashings and seals.
7. Exterior structural components. List chimneys, vents, pipes, skylights and equipment separately on your checklist. Look for signs of aging such as peeling paint, rust, rot and moss or fungus as well as structural damage like bent elements, missing parts and sagging pipes.
8. Pipe and equipment supports. Check that there are no sagging pipes or cracks in the base of the support. Nor should there be any deflected hangers or supports digging into the roof membrane. These are signs of failing supports and will require replacement/repair soon.
9. Stairs, crossovers, platforms and railings must be checked for structural soundness, loose parts, surface deterioration such as damaged paint and for missing or damaged elements such as rail posts and treads that can cause an unsafe environment for roofing maintenance professionals.
10. Safety signage. Signs must be legible and posted in a prominent place. Remove debris, accumulated mold, harmful chemicals or extremely hot equipment or pipes on your rooftop.
11. Each repair must be listed separately on your roof maintenance checklist so all future inspectors know what to look for.
Your Roof Maintenance Checklist
Use your checklist to create a system to prioritize issues. A “good-fair-poor rating system is effective. Give a “good” rating to elements that need no attention beyond routine inspection. “Fair” elements will show some wear and may be scheduled for maintenance and/or inspection, or can be marked for future replacement. Items in “poor” condition require immediate attention.
Decide ahead of time which issues to handle in-house and which you need to have a professional to address. Keep in mind that your checklist is an invaluable tool for proper maintenance of your commercial roof. Understanding roofing costs can be difficult, but when you know what to look for and are armed with the right questions, it is much easier to make the right choice for your needs and to save time and money in the end.