In-House Roof Management

10/08/2012 | By Richard L. Fricklas

Five steps to extend roof life

“Everybody talks about the weather, but nobody does anything about it.”
-- Charles Dudley Warner, Hartford Courant, 1897

Unfortunately, the same could be said about roof inspection and maintenance. Everybody talks about doing it, but all too often, very little (if anything) is actually done.  The good news: although this is a futile battle when it comes to the weather, we can do something about the lack of timely inspection and maintenance.

It is well documented a conscientious maintenance program results in an increase in roof service life. Below, learn five modest first steps that you can implement in the short term to make a big difference at a relatively low cost:

1. Take back control
2. Avoid roof leakage
3. Maintain roof warranties
4. Increase roof life
5. Improve safety

1) Take Back Control
Roof systems are work platforms for other trades, including HVAC, electrical, antennae, and even solar panels. If these trades are not closely watched, damage may lurk undiscovered until leakage has occurred. Take charge of your roof with three simple steps:

  • Implement a daily sign-in sheet and ID badge tracking roof visits, purpose, and activities. Take photos of the roofing and flashings in the intended work area before, during, and after the visit.
  • Have visitors sign a document that says “I understand that if I report any damages to Buildings Operations on the day that they occur, I will not be back-charged. However, I will be responsible for any and all expenses caused by damages not promptly reported.”
  • If you do not have a current roof file, start one today. Include sub-folders for each distinct roof area. A comprehensive folder would include roof plans, roof system identification, and copies of any warranties.

2) Avoid Roof Leakage
Roofs are intended to shed water. That water must have somewhere to go. Periodically, have maintenance personnel walk the roof with a trash bag and remove debris from drain strainers and scuppers. After a heavy rain, see what areas do not drain within 48 hours. Blockage in downspouts will require unplugging. Each roof area should have two means of drainage, one of which may be for overflow to avoid deflection and roof collapse.

3) Maintain Roof Warranties
While roof bonds, warranties, and guarantees cover normal wear and tear, most do not cover physical damage from neglect or abuse. Warranties will have notification requirements, so that problems must be reported promptly to the warrantor. That means we building owners and managers need to know who holds the warranty and to whom and where the problem must be reported. (Back to that roofing file!) A durable metal sign at roof access points should indicate the provider of the warranty, the roofing contractor that did the installation, and an emergency phone number.

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