Many people might ask themselves why they should maintain or how they should maintain their commercial roof. Well, preventing any problems that would require an emergency roof repair or replacement would be the best way to take care of your commercial roof. Taking care of your roof before the winter comes means that it will be in the best condition for the rest of the year. When your roof gets the proper maintenance, it helps it fair better during storms and extreme weather, which means there would be less of a chance of getting any leaks or other elemental damage. When something serious goes wrong with a commercial roof, such as severe weather damage, unforeseen circumstances, or lack of routine maintenance and routine inspections, this can cause an entire section of a building to be shut down. This is terrible for any commercial operation! Especially one that has business going on constantly. Therefore, any business, especially one that has a large amount of square footage dedicated to a roofing system, should have their roof maintained properly. Maintaining every part of your commercial roof is a key duty of the facility manager. Regular roof maintenance is essential to ensure the total integrity of the building, however, knowing how to approach it is a big responsibility.
Roof Warning Signs
A properly designed roof provides structural support, fire resistance and more. A minor issue like a tear in the outer layer or warped asphalt, sealant could pose a risk. Therefore, when hiring an experienced professional roofer they should do a routine inspection. During a routine inspection, they could look for some of the following warning signs.
Having bubbles or blisters on your commercial roof is a definite warning sign that should be taken care of as soon as it’s spotted. An improper roof application is typically a leading cause of roof blisters and bubbling. Bubbles appear on your roof when there is moisture that is trapped under the roofing materials, where the water evaporates, and the result is usually the formation of bubbles or blisters.
Your roof shouldn’t be uneven, simply for the fact that a roof is built to bear its own weight. If you happen to notice any part of your roof sagging, then contacting a commercial roofing contractor is your best bet so that they can look at your roof and determine what actions should be taken. A sagging roof could be caused by many different issues, among them, being accumulated moisture, additional weight on the roof due to the installation of new roofing materials on top of old ones for a long time and other factors.
Excess standing water also known as ponding is very dangerous for your roof. Standing water is defined as water on a roof that hasn’t been drained or evaporated within the 48 hour period after rainfall, flooding or any other causes. If it hasn’t evaporated within that period, you can be expecting it to remain for an extended period of time. The accumulation of standing water on a roof over time can lead to dangerous defects which would include leaks that may eventually allow hazardous mold to grow on your roof surface. When the standing water has been on your roof for a while it can begin to cause sagging, thus creating a larger dip/pool to hold yet more standing water. Once you get standing water, it often creates a vicious cycle that ends with roof repairs or even full replacements to counter the damage caused.
Regular Routine Inspections
Many commercial roofing companies recommend that facility managers, or their local roofing contractors perform a routine inspection of a roof twice per year, usually once in the spring and again in the fall. This will allow you time to address any concerns before bad weather could cause an issue or make any issues worse. It could be tempting to do the roof work yourself and you might even be lured into thinking that any roofing contractor is qualified for the job. However, hiring the wrong commercial roofing company will lead to more expense and wasted time correcting any issues they have caused. When hiring just any roofing contractor, they could be using inadequate materials or they could get injured while servicing your property. This can cause invalid warranties and cause your insurance costs to skyrocket.
An experienced commercial roofing contractor would be able to find any signs of a leak or any other type of damage. They would be able to pinpoint any loose materials that need to be replaced, overhanging branches that would need to be trimmed, along with any dirt and debris that would need to be cleared off. Hiring a professional commercial roofer, they would be able to visually survey the total roof system and check all the flashings, fittings and other roof-related accessories. Any blockage to drains or downspouts should be checked in order to prevent adequate water drainage. A routine commercial roof inspection would look for gaps or tears in penetration and flashings, proper seals on all rooftop vents and equipment, and any other signs of damage.
A proper commercial roof inspection would cover counter flashing as well. The purpose of counter flashing is to prevent moisture from entering behind the vertical flange of the headwall or sidewall flashing. Usually, the material covering the exterior wall serves as the counter flashing and often a separate slip metal flashing would be installed under the counter. Counter flashing is important mainly when it comes to brick walls. When properly installed, counter flashing sections are inserted into the mortar joints. Afterwards the joints would be sealed with an appropriate sealant. Counter flashing is also inserted into a groove cut into the brick, and then it is sealed.
During your routine inspection, your local commercial roofing contractor would conduct an interior and exterior exam. When conducting the interior inspection of the roof, you would be looking for discolored or water-stained ceiling and walls, raised or deteriorated areas on the wall, discoloration or water staining around window frames. There could also be rust or other deterioration of the roof decking, joists or other structural components, as well as mold on any interior surfaces.
With the exterior of the building, on the other hand, there could be excessive standing water on the roof’s surface that would most likely be caused by structural failing, broken purlins, broken joists, loose/buckled flashing or damage to the roof membrane. There could also be materials stored on the rooftop that should be stored elsewhere. You would also have to look for nails or screws in the roof deck backing out of the roof membrane, debris on the roof or in the drains and gutters, missing domes on drains and defective, damaged or missing masonry joints.
The most trusted providers of commercial roofing or re-roofing services often offer a commercial roof maintenance program that has a comprehensive plan. Proper maintenance can extend the roof’s life and reduce potential damage to the building’s interior, protecting one of a company’s biggest assets, their building. When setting up a commercial roof maintenance program, the recommendation is that once every two years you have a plumber check all the roof drain lines. For a comprehensive commercial roof maintenance program, you should create standardized documentation for each building that is being inspected to help maintain proper records. With that documentation, there should be a file for each roof, including the roof’s installation dates, records of repairs and updates, a map of any current leaks and every time roof maintenance is performed.
Proactive Vs. Reactive Roofing Maintenance
In order to know if proactive or reactive roofing maintenance is something that you want to go with, you should know what exactly they are. Proactive is to take control of the situation by actively preventing something from happening rather than responding to it after it has happened (reactive). On your roof, being able to spot minor problems before it becomes a bigger issue with a larger price tag, taking an active role in the maintenance of your roof by performing routine inspections and keeping up with minor repairs.
Reactive maintenance always happens after the fact. This simply means that the maintenance work and repairs aren’t addressed until there is very obvious evidence that a problem is present, such as missing shingles or water leaking into the home. Unfortunately, with reactive maintenance, warning signs of potential problems are often missed. The result is that damage and repairs often end up being more extensive and costly than they otherwise would have been. Many owners take an “out of sight out of mind approach” with their roofs. However, taking a proactive maintenance approach over the reactive maintenance approach not only extends the life of your roof but provides significant cost benefits.
Facility managers who choose to react to problems as they occur would generally pay an average of 25 cents per square foot annually for maintenance. On the other hand, facility managers who get their roofs inspected and repaired routinely before problems happen will spend less than 25 cents annually. Proactively maintained roofs last an average of 20+ years compared to an average lifespan of 13 years for reactive maintenance. The longer you can extend your roof’s life before replacement, the greater your total savings will be and the chances of a roofing disaster occurring on your property will decrease.