Your roof is an asset and as such should be properly maintained. All components of the building envelope require periodic maintenance to perform as designed, but perhaps most importantly is your roof! Most maintenance guidelines recommend that the building envelope be inspected at least twice a year to assist you in maintaining a watertight building.
The best way to avoid roof-related problems and strengthen weather resistance is through regular care and preventive maintenance. Proper maintenance also prolongs the life of a roof and in many instances will allow for “repair” instead of “replacement” when a problem is identified. The frequency of inspections for routine maintenance depends on several factors, including the age of the roof, recent weather events, rooftop foot traffic, and conditions identified during previous inspections. That said, scheduling inspections every 6 months (fall and spring) is an effective way to make sure they are not sidetracked by the press of other important business.
Your roof should be inspected for tears or punctures caused by wind, storms, falling objects, roof traffic and the like. In addition, the membrane should be inspected for any contamination such as petroleum products, greases, oils and fats, acids and other similar discharges that cause deterioration. It is also important that your roof is inspected for ponding water and clogged drains which can be corrected by periodic cleaning as part of a preventative maintenance program.
Here are some things to keep in mind:
• All inspections should look for and develop a repair plan for the items that indicate signs of problems.
• After a severe windstorm or hurricane, inspect your roof for damage, as repeated storms can reduce the strength of the roof. Even if the roof survived a storm, it may have been damaged or weakened enough to fail against a future storm.
• Inspections should look for signs of previous leaks or other problems to make sure that repairs have stayed intact.
• Remove any loose objects and accumulated debris. A clean roof eliminates leaves and other materials that have a tendency to hold moisture, which can speed up the deterioration of the roofing materials.
• Check gutters and downspouts for leaves, twigs and other debris that will inhibit proper drainage. Keeping nearby trees trimmed is also a best practice.
• If located in a hurricane prone area, check if the gutters include gutter straps designed to resist uplift.
• Inspect rooftop vents and equipment to make sure they are well sealed. Seal any gaps with flashing cement. Replacement may be necessary if the metal flashing is badly deteriorated, or if vents can wiggle back and forth.
• After a hail event with hail stones larger than ¾ inch, contact your insurer and have the roof inspected even if you are not aware of any damage.
• Consulting a professional roofing contractor may be helpful if concerns exist after a maintenance review of the roof. The contractor can also help to determine the health of the roof, estimate the remaining life of the roof, help you develop a maintenance plan, and identify additional steps to protect the roof.
Proactively maintained commercial roofs last an average of 21 years as opposed to reactively maintained roofs that average 13 years of life. Annual commercial roof maintenance costs are only 1 to 3% of the cost of a complete roof replacement.