By Matt Malorni
From the December 2022 Issue
When it comes to properly maintaining, replacing, or installing roofing, there are several factors to remember as well as common mistakes to avoid. With roofing maintenance, there is usually a right way and a wrong way and not much of a gray area in between.
Here is a checklist of tips to follow to ensure that you are taking the best route possible to a safe, trouble-free, and long-lasting roof:
1. Never Assume Your Roof Is Safe
Remember that your roof is also a workspace for contractors, and you are responsible for their safety. The U.S. Department of Labor reports approximately 37,000 accidents per year resulting in injuries to HVAC and plumbing contractors, with falls, slips, and trips being some of the top causes. Have a professional roofing service provider perform a safety inspection and give you a report in writing to keep on file. In the event of an accident, you will have a record of your due diligence.
2. Properly And Regularly Maintain All Roofing, Even New Roofs
Don’t assume because a roof is new, or just a couple of years old, that it does not need to be maintained and regularly inspected. All roofing needs preventative maintenance. Not just to fix any problems that may have occurred, but to keep the manufacturer’s warranty valid. Many manufacturers will extend their warrantees if the roofing system is properly and regularly maintained.
3. Don’t Just Fix Problems As They Occur
A reactive approach to roofing maintenance will always be more costly than a proactive approach. Catching problems before or when they occur, will enable you to keep repair costs down and minimize any major disruptions to the building. Don’t fall prey to the out-of-sight-out-of-mind mentality. Many facility managers forget about the roof until there is a problem. Keep your roofing system front-and-center and top-of-mind. Preventative maintenance is the key to both a healthy roof and a stable budget. The goal is to stop problems before they start, therefore avoiding costly repairs and replacements. In order to maintain a healthy roof, a walkover assessment is recommended twice a year, specifically during spring and fall, to protect the structure from harsh conditions.
4. Address Small Problems Right Away
Small problems can quickly become big problems. A minor leak, left unaddressed, will not only worsen, but lead to rot and other structural damage that could ultimately require replacement. Catching these small issues right away helps avert bigger and costlier problems.
5. Never Use Non-Roofing Professionals
Never rely on non-roofing professionals to inspect and assess your roofing system. It takes a trained professional to be able to identify many non-obvious problems that could soon be large and costly issues. Do not allow non-licensed roofing professionals to make repairs that may or may not be per the manufacturer’s specifications. This may inadvertently void the manufacturer’s warranty.
6. Supervise Anyone That Needs To Be On The Roof
Monitor what maintenance staff has been on the roof and supervise anyone who needs to be on the roof to make repairs for non-roofing equipment, such as HVAC systems. Oftentimes these techs can accidentally damage portions of a roofing system that could become bigger issues. Because they are not roofing professionals, they can inadvertently cause problems while performing their work.
7. Watch Out For Snow!
Heavy snow puts extreme weight on your roof, and it is vital that you have the snow removed before it causes structural strain and/or damage. Even everyday snowfall can build up to dangerous levels while the freeze and thaw cycles can lead to leaks, damage, and inconvenience to your operations. A single inch of wet snow equals 1.66 pounds per square foot. That is a lot of weight on a roof for such a small amount of snow coverage. Accumulation of snow and ice can cause cracks to worsen. When water seeps into even the smallest of cracks or openings, damage can occur. The leaks can spread throughout the roof system and over time become more prominent. Snow drifts around HVAC units and other rooftop equipment can cause performance issues and allow moisture into places it does not belong. It is important to have the snow removed from around those penetrations.
8. Remember That Repair Is Not Always Less Expensive Than Replacement
While in the short term, repair is less expensive than a replacement that may not be true in the long term. When warranted, consider replacement over repair. Throwing good money after bad is not going to be a smart move in the long term. If a roof or portions of it, need to be replaced, it might not be worth a band-aid approach just to extend the life another few months.
Malorni is service director of Legacy Roofing Services, one of the largest and most respected commercial and residential roofing service providers in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Malorni has been in the commercial roofing business for the past ten years and works with facility managers on properly maintaining and installing their roofing systems.
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