No matter how you look at it, neglecting roof maintenance or reducing maintenance costs doesn’t make financial sense. Maintenance is essential to extending a roof’s lifespan and preventing costly roofing issues. Especially for commercial roofing systems due to their low slopes. Since water tends to pond on flat surfaces, commercial flat roofs are more leak-prone than sloped residential roofing systems. (This is the same reason why only qualified professionals should handle the installation of low slope roofing systems.)
Without routine roofing maintenance, it’s only a matter of time until costly roofing issues start to emerge. Remember: A commercial roofing system—no matter how durable it is—won’t last long without routine maintenance.
What are the ways roofing issues can affect your business?
Additional Repair or Replacement Costs
Some building owners think commercial roofing maintenance is an unnecessary cost. However, they often don’t take into account the costs of neglecting to maintain their commercial roofs or reducing their roof maintenance budget. The most compelling reason why they shouldn’t cut their maintenance budget is that they’ll end up paying more in the long run. The savings produced by these maintenance budget cuts will be eaten up by repair or replacement costs quickly.
Ballooning Repair Costs
Don’t forget that roofing issues can easily affect other parts of the building if they’re not fixed immediately. For instance, rainwater can make its way to your building’s insulation if leaks aren’t fixed immediately and reduce its R-value or ability to prevent heat transfer, which in turn can increase your building’s heating and cooling costs. Not to mention expensive equipment may suffer damage if water manages to make its way to the lower levels of the building.
Increased Risk of Accidents
Slippery floors are a safety hazard that can open up legal liabilities for the building management if someone suffers an accident because they slipped on a wet floor.
Disruption to Business Operations
In severe cases, the disruption to business operations usually lasts longer because detecting leaks will take some time. Remember: water follows the path of resistance, so the location of the leak isn’t necessarily where the source of the leak is located. The longer the repairs go on, the bigger the disruption to your business, and the higher the losses from lost productivity.
Formulating a Commercial Roof Maintenance Strategy
Given low-slope roofing’s vulnerability to moisture damage and the costs of infrequent maintenance, it’s important that building owners have a commercial roofing maintenance strategy in place. An essential component of any roofing strategy is a digitized roofing file, which keeps track of your roof’s maintenance.
Details that should be included in a roofing file are:
- Basic roof info – These include the dimensions of your roof, the type of roofing material that was installed, and the brand used or the shingle manufacturer. (Using the same type of brand helps keep your roof’s performance consistent).
- Receipts issued by your contractor – These receipts can serve as proof your roof underwent regular maintenance in case you need to file a claim with your insurer. Remember: failure to regularly maintain your roof can void your insurance coverage.
- Previous inspection reports – These inspection reports indicate the parts of the roof that have undergone inspection and the areas that have yet to be thoroughly inspected. Details such as these can help your contractor rule out certain areas of your roof and detect leaks faster.
- Contractor’s contact details – Keeping your commercial roofing contractor’s contact details in your roofing file will save you the trouble of having to look for them in case there’s a roofing emergency.
The other components of a maintenance strategy are:
- Rooftop access control – Foot traffic on low slope roofing systems accelerates natural wear and tear and in the process shortens your roof’s lifespan. That’s why access to the rooftop needs to be regulated. It’s recommended that building owners craft a building policy that outlines the for getting access to the rooftop and include a clause in tenants’ lease about rooftop access.
- Routine inspections – Routine inspections and maintenance would naturally be the cornerstone of a commercial roofing maintenance strategy. As a rule of thumb, commercial roofing systems should be inspected at least twice a year and after extreme weather events.
What if there are no visible signs of storm damage? It’d still be a good idea to have a professional contractor conduct a roof inspection. No matter how durable a roof is, it’s bound to have suffered some form of damage after an extreme weather event. Not to mention it takes some time for the warning signs of damage to emerge. By the time signs of storm damage start to appear, it’s already too late to mitigate storm damage.
How to Tell If a Roof Replacement Is Needed
Of course, roofing maintenance can only do so much. As your roof ages, it’ll require more frequent repairs. Individually, repairs may not cost that much. However, repair costs quickly add up. If your commercial roofing system is over 20 years old, getting a roofing replacement makes more financial sense.
What are the warning signs you’ll soon need a roof replacement? The warning signs vary depending on the type of material that was installed.
Here’s an overview of the lifespans of popular roofing materials and the warning signs you need to keep an eye out for:
- PVC roofing – PVC roofing usually lasts 10 to 25 years, although this may vary depending on the quality of the material and the thickness of the roofing membrane. When in doubt about the quality of a roofing membrane, it’s best to stick to tried-and-trusted brands such as GAF®.
Signs of Aging: Brittle roofing membrane, cracks on its surface, or edges that are starting to peel off or pull away
- TPO ( Thermoplastic polyolefin) Roofing – TPO membranes usually last 15 to 25 years.
Signs of Aging: Worn areas on TPO roofing and membrane edges that are pulling away from the perimeter off the roof (Note that there are new installation methods that can prevent the edges of TPO roofing from pulling away from the perimeter)
- EPDM (Ethylene propylene diene monomer) Roofing – EPDM roofing has an average lifespan of 40 years.
Signs of Aging: Thinning membranes and edges that are pulling away from the roof’s perimeter
If you’re considering a TPO, EPDM, or PVC roofing replacement, it’s important to vet a prospective contractor before hiring them. After all, less experienced contractors are more likely to make costly installation errors.
- Check a contractor’s online reviews – Online reviews should give you a good idea of the level of service you can expect from a contractor. Keep in mind that a few negative reviews aren’t necessarily a red flag. After all, miscommunication can happen even in the best circumstances. What you need to focus on is the contractor’s response to online complaints. Did the contractor bother to reply to the complaints, and if so, was it done in a professional manner?
- Ask local references – Ask your neighbors or friends if they’ve hired some of the contractors in your area and if they’d recommend them.
- Hire local – Focusing your search on the roofing contractors near your area can help you quickly narrow down your options. Hiring local contractors has also other advantages. For starters, they can make better recommendations since they’re more familiar with the local climate and building codes. Another advantage is the personalized service they provide. After all, contractors have a reputation to uphold in their community.
- Check the number of years a contractor has been working in the industry – The number of years a contractor has been working in the industry should give you a good idea of their level of expertise.
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