Are You Covered? Roof Maintenance Considerations

March 7, 2019 | By: Nicole Lloyd
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A properly maintained roof is critical for protecting a building from hazards. Therefore, it’s important to learn the best practices in roof maintenance. Take the following considerations into account as you create and modify your own roof maintenance program.

Learn the Risks

There are several risks to a roof that, as a property owner, you should be aware of. The following are some common risks to roofs:

Leaves and Debris

Despite being seemingly innocuous, leaves and debris building up on a roof can cause quite a bit of damage. An abundance of leaves can clog drains, block scuppers, and even cause mildew and mold to grow.

Leaks

Be sure to inspect vacant spaces for roof leaks as well. When you don’t repair roof leaks quickly enough, moisture can seep into the insulation under the roofing membrane. The only way to fix the issue would be a complete removal of the wet insulation.

Abandoned Equipment

When building owners don’t monitor their roof properly, workers who have roof access may abandon or improperly secure equipment on the roof. You may find that there are abandoned satellite dishes, compressors, mini splits and remote terminal unit (RTU) access panels that are missing screws. Unsecured items like these can cause wear and tear on your roof.

Keep Safety in Mind

Working on a roof comes with inherent safety issues. The engineers, building owners, and contractors are responsible for keeping everyone protected from harm. To ensure everyone’s safety, be sure to follow all safety guidelines. Consult the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and local safety agencies for guidelines on how to ensure the safety of all involved. Roof repair can be dangerous, and every precaution should be taken to protect those with roof access.

Use Preventative Maintenance

Preventative maintenance aims to prevent damage or failure before it occurs. By using a preventative maintenance program with your roof, you can extend the life of your roof and save money, too. A good preventative roof maintenance program will involve frequent inspections of the roof so you can fix any issues before they become a serious problem.

Inspect Your Roof Monthly

A key aspect of a roof maintenance program is the roof inspection, which you should ideally conduct on a monthly basis. Scheduling regular inspections and assigning them to the right people are two of the first things you need to do to organize your roof maintenance program. In addition, a roof inspection will involve examining:

  • The space for loose leaves or debris that may clog drains, leaks, and/or for any abandoned or improperly secured equipment
  • Sealants and caulks
  • Parapet walls, copings and metal work
  • The building envelope (cladding, fenestration, interior/exterior walls, ceilings, rooftop structures)
  • Roof tie-ins and expansion joints
  • HVAC units and rooftop equipment
  • General appearance

These inspections help to correct minor problems or damage to the roof before they become a costly repair. In addition to the monthly inspections, you should conduct an inspection after every extreme or unusual storm, after building damage or additions to the building, and after any significant maintenance work or repairs involving access to or traffic on the roof.

Consider the Age of the Roof and the Warranty

If your roof is newer and still under warranty, continue to plan and budget for a preventative maintenance plan. If, however, you have an older roof with an expired warranty, you should consider whether it would be best to repair it or replace it. In general, if the repair cost is over 30 percent of the replacement cost, it’s better to replace the roof altogether.

Keep Logs

As with much of building ownership, one of the most vital pieces of a roof maintenance program involves keeping track of data. You should keep both roof access logs, as well as roof repair logs. A roof access log allows you to track who gains access to the roof and when. A roof repair log allows you to maintain a record of leak repairs and manage the activities of other trades and service personnel working on the roof. Any work being conducted such as window washing, equipment or exterior building maintenance, routine service calls, additions or other construction activities involving access to the roof should all be logged consistently.

If there is any damage to the roof, these logs will allow you to determine if a certain individual or company should be held accountable for the damage. These individuals or companies should be liable for any damages to your roofing system.

It’s also beneficial to have maintenance personnel maintain a repair log with both a roof plan and floor plan pinpointing the locations of observed roof leaks, their date of occurrence, general weather conditions, a record of notification, and inspection dates. Review this information prior to the regular seasonal inspections and, it will help you during investigations of any leak reports or problems.

Remember When to Use a Roof Contractor

While building owner and engineering staff are ultimately responsible for roof maintenance, it’s important to have a professional roof contractor involved as well. The monthly inspections can be conducted with in-house staff. Regarding repairs, however, only emergency stop leak repairs should be performed by your maintenance team. You should hire a roof contractor to perform any permanent repairs or repairs that extend the lifespan of the roof. A roof contractor should also be hired to  perform an annual inspection.

Inspect Roof Equipment when a Tenant Moves In or Out

There are a few steps to take when you have new tenants move in or out to ensure the quality of your roof. When a new tenant moves into your property, any equipment they place on the roof must be flashed in by a certified roofer. This equipment may include mechanical equipment, vent hoods, or satellite dishes, for example.

When a tenant moves out, any abandoned equipment should be removed, and you should contact a certified roofer to repair any damage they may have been caused to the roof. By being proactive in this regard, you can help to recoup any repair costs if you can bill it back to the tenant.

Additionally, be sure to communicate with your tenants so they know that they should use your preferred roofer for the building. This way, you can trust that the repairs will be inline with the work already being performed at your building.

You’re Covered

By taking these considerations into account, you can create an excellent roof maintenance program, and, therefore, you can be sure that you’re building is covered and protected.


SOURCES

Bare, A. (2019, February 20). Interview with Amanda Bare, Account Executive at Roof Partners [E-mail interview].

Vences, D. (2019, February 25). Interview with David Vences, Portfolio Chief Engineer with Lincoln Property Company [E-mail interview].