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Performing regular roof inspections with a detailed checklist can lower your overall repair and replacement costs by 45% and extend the life of your commercial roof from 13 years to 25 years. Most commercial roofs should be inspected at least twice a year, so what should you look for when performing this crucial preventative measure?
Types of Roofs
1) Flat Roofs
Flat roofs are prone to leaks and surface degradation due to weathering and standing water. Objectively look at the surface of your flat roof for granular loss, ponding, holes, punctures or even blisters in the membrane. Check the drains for blockages and inspect the flashings and membrane seams for signs of wear and tear or corrosion. Flashings are also prone to fungus, which can push the flashing away from the surface of the roof and cause leaks.
2) Sloped Roofs
Sloped roofs are typically constructed using asphalt shingles, tiles, slate, or metal. It's important to check asphalt shingles for granular loss, curling, and bending – these are signs that the shingles are nearing the end of their useful life or may even need to be replaced immediately.
Tiles and slates should be smooth, and chips, cracks, or broken tiles should be inspected by a professional. If the damage is caught early, only the damaged tiles will need to be replaced, but if the damage is left to worsen, a full roof replacement may be needed.
Wood shakes and shingles should be inspected for signs of moss, mold, mildew, warping, and buckling, and should also be tested for rot. If the roof does show signs of moss, mold, or mildew, it may be slick and walking across it is not advised.
Metal roofs should be checked for corrosion and loose, bent, or damaged panels, while the seams should be checked for uniformity and water-tightness.
What to Check
1) Visible Damage and Debris – The first step to inspecting a roof is looking for obvious signs of damage, including visible structural deformations, dirt and debris, standing water, and blocked or broken gutters and downspouts. Any obvious damage should be repaired immediately.
2) Exterior Structural Components – All external structural components of the roof, including chimneys, vents, fascia, drip edges, and decking should be inspected for damage, missing components, rust, and rot. Leaks tend to form around chimneys, vents, and skylights – and if they're not noticed in a timely manner, damage can occur to the underlayment, sheathing, and joists, leading to potentially expensive repair and replacement costs.
3) Interior Roofing Components – When roofs are not inspected regularly, interior structural damage can occur. Often, due to lack of regular maintenance, interior damage is the first to be noticed. On sloped roofs, the location of the damage may not directly point to the location of the leak. Water follows the path of least resistance, which means the source of the leak is often not above the visible damage. If a leak has been left to linger, rafter and roof trusses should be checked for evidence of mold, mildew and rot, which could indicate extensive structural damage.
When performing a roofing inspection, all roof and structural components should be rated good, fair, or poor. Components in good condition do not need to be repaired or replaced, while components in fair condition may need to be repaired or more thoroughly inspected by a professional. Components and roofing in poor condition should be repaired or replaced as soon as possible by a professional contractor.
Steve Fountaine is owner of Premiere Works.
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