Posted on 8/11/2014 12:34 PM by Ellisha McLaughlin

Facility managers are constantly on call to attend to occupant needs. HVAC problems, overhanging tree limbs, and interior walls that need to be moved are all part of the job description, however, handling roof leaks is often high on the list of problems and yet many can be avoided. Here are some common roofing issues and solutions to minimize damage:

1) Supervise all contractors
Unless it's Christmas Eve and you're expecting Rudolph, no one should be up on the roof without your knowledge and without proper supervision. Issues can arise when everyone from landscapers cutting tree limbs to HVAC service technicians are working on your roof and may not be aware of the damage they could be doing. Insist a qualified observer be available and inspect all work prior to their departure. 

2) Roof walkway pads
When work is done on the roof, a simple solution that helps minimize damage is the installation of walkway pads to provide protection while the work is performed. Everyone knows accidents happen: dropping tools on a roof, for example, is one of the easiest ways to damage the membrane of a roof. Walkway pads add a cost-effective layer of protection.

3) Where does the water go?
HVAC installation is heavy, time consuming, expensive, and one of the major causes of leaks when done improperly because it requires penetration of the roof membrane. With new installation, have your commercial roofer and HVAC technicians work together to solve condensation issues. The water drawn out of the air needs to go somewhere; install interior discharge lines when feasible and direct water to built-in roof drains. When retrofitting, insist your HVAC technicians work with a qualified commercial roofer in order to ensure the roof membrane isn't compromised and you know where the water is supposed to go – and remember to check that it's going the proper place after a rain. 

4) Is it a load-bearing wall?
We know that most often the load-bearing walls are the outside ones, but in an effort to "build to suit," modifications can be made that compromise the integrity of the roof. If done improperly, roofs can sag which can cause ponding and leaks. Call a professional structural engineer if you're unsure. 

5) Prevention is the best defense
Your facility's roof should be inspected bi-annually and have everything checked: curbs, gutters, flashing, coatings – anything that's been installed or repaired in the previous six months. Your best bet could be to contract for a fixed-cost roofing routine maintenance program from a commercial roofer that offers full service and support. That way you've got "one stop shopping" for all your roofing needs, they are there when you need them, and everything's already budgeted.

Now who's up on the roof?

Ellisha McLaughlin is director of services for North American Roofing and can be reached at emclaughlin@naroofing.com.