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The roof is a commercial building’s first line of defense from natural hazards such as wind, rain, fire, hail, ice, snow, and extreme heat. It is also the most vulnerable part of your building. Every day, your roof is exposed to weather and other elements that may contribute to decay and deterioration, increasing the risk of damage to the roof itself and the contents below it.

Preventive maintenance that makes a good roof better is far more cost-effective than neglect; however, that does not mean that all neglected roofs are unsalvageable. If economic uncertainties have forced you to forego annual inspections and routine maintenance, it’s not necessarily too late to turn things around. A thorough roof inspection is the first step for determining whether a neglected roof can be restored rather than replaced.

Key Danger Signals

  • Visible rusting or metal deterioration.
  • Blistering, splitting or erosion of the surface.
  • Punctures to the membrane.
  • Water infiltration.
  • Shrinking or pulling of materials around perimeter.

What To Do To Extend Service Life

Once you’ve bought some time by restoring your aging roof to an appropriate service life (typically, restorations are warranted for anywhere from five to 10 years) – routine preventive maintenance will help ensure that it lasts as long as you need it to last.

By training your maintenance team to perform the following 10 routine procedures on every roof at least twice each year, you can be confident that a comparatively nominal maintenance investment will buy you the time needed until you are able to make a capital investment in a replacement roof.

1. Clean Roof Drains: Roof drains clogged with debris cause ponding. Standing water can eventually penetrate the membrane through seams or UV-damaged seals, causing leaks and/or mold.

2. Check the Perimeter For Cracks or Splits: Your roof’s perimeter takes much of the stress related to repetitive expansion and contraction cycles. As metal components such as edge details shift, the surrounding roof area can crack or split. Discovered early, such problems can be repaired before water penetration of the insulation and your building’s interior can occur.

3. Inspect and Repair Flashing: According to Factory Mutual Insurance, 80 percent of construction litigation involves water damage and 90 percent of that damage started with a water leak at the roof edge. Flashings are generally acknowledged to be the single most vulnerable component of your roof system. Regular inspections help ensure that areas where the membranes or panels are joined to dissimilar materials remain intact and impervious to water penetration.

4. Inspect the Roof Field and Repair Emerging Cracks or Blisters: The roof field takes the most direct hit from UV and weather, as well as the stress of occasional foot traffic. Promptly and diligently fixing problems such as cracks and blisters will protect the energy-saving value of your insulation and keep your buildings dry.

5. Inspect HVAC and Other Rooftop Equipment: Rooftop equipment is frequently the site of water penetration, as seals disintegrate and/or are damaged by worker traffic and equipment over time. Inspecting where your rooftop equipment adjoins the roof surface ensures early detection and repair.

6. Inspect All Penetrations: Areas where vents, plumbing, or other utilities are routed from the roof or exterior wall directly into your building are similarly prone to damage. Inspecting and repairing all penetrations regularly, and resealing them as necessary, can keep your buildings leak free.

7. Inspect and Maintain Surfacing Materials: Whether coatings, minerals, or gravel, the surfacing of your roof takes tremendous abuse from the sun, weather, air pollutants, and from chemicals or other discharge escaping onto the roof from your building’s interior. Discovering compromised areas early can preserve the integrity of your roof system.

8. Inspect Parapet Walls and Copings: The cracks and minute separations along mortar-joint bonding lines and metal caps are vulnerable to water penetration if not routinely inspected and treated for damage.

9. Inspect and Repair Seams: Single-ply roofs, as well as some other low slope roof systems, are always vulnerable at their seams, primarily due to the stress of repeated expansion and contraction cycles. Early detection of problems such as open laps can prevent costly replacement of damaged insulation.

10. Inspect and Repair or Replace Fasteners: For metal roofs, fasteners that penetrate the system can invite water penetration if improperly sealed. Since even the most rugged sealing composites deteriorate from UV and weather exposure over time, regular seal inspections and repairs are critical to the longevity of metal roof systems.

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