Roofing contractors in the NRCA and all roofing manufacturers agree that a good roof system requires proper design, quality materials, and quality application to perform successfully. It is important to keep in mind that nothing is more critical to a commercial roof’s long-term performance than establishing a program of regular inspections and proper maintenance. According to Carlisle Care Manual, “You can add years to the life of your roof by properly maintaining the roof with a regular inspection program to detect minor problems before they become serious.” Unfortunately, most building owners are not thinking about their commercial roof until there is an incident, such as a leak. What many business owners do not realize is that it is actually much cheaper and easier to maintain a commercial roof than it is to have to repair the roof. Commercial roof preventive maintenance may come at a small cost, but consider having to close your business down because of leaks, losing inventory, or even an accident that results from a poorly maintained roof. Rather than waiting for an issue with the roof, business owners should proactively maintain their commercial roof by adopting the following habits that will extend the life of your roof and your business.
Annual Roof Inspection
It is important to know the status of your roof’s condition at all times. Doing so allows you to assess and make a diagnosis of the damage much more easily when a leak does occur. For instance, a brand new roof that is leaking may be the result of clogged gutters whereas an older roof with the same issue may be due to a more severe problem that has built up over time.
We recommend hiring a professional roofing company to conduct these inspections. The company will maintain a written report detailing your roofing system’s condition, locate any issues, and fix the issues before they grow into a major problem. Conducting regular maintenance will give you insight into your roof’s lifespan, preventing your business from facing a financial ambush when you do need a new roof.
Clean Your Commercial Roof Regularly
It is necessary to clean debris off your commercial roof on a regular basis. If you do not regularly clean your roof, the debris will build up. Debris can puncture membranes, clog drainage systems, and become a safety issue. In addition, the debris on your roof can restrict drainage and cause ponding water, which creates the ideal environment for algae, lichen, mildew, and mold growth. Not only does this make your roof look neglected, but it can also allow water to enter your building and reduce the functionality and lifespan of your roof. Not to mention, at over 8 lbs. a gallon, ponding water can have a severe impact on the structural integrity of your building. Because flat roofs are not designed to maintain the weight of standing water for an extended period, static water should not be left unattended for more than a couple of days. Additionally, standing water amplifies the effect of UV rays, which can cause premature aging.
Extending the life of your roof involves inspections and regular cleanings to remove collected debris from the roof’s surface, gutters, drains, and downspouts.
Prune and Trim Overhanging Branches
Trimming branches hanging over your building is a preventive measure to avoid damage when branches fall on the roof. This can occur when there is a storm with strong winds or even when a branch dies. Additionally, trimming overgrown trees and clearing their foliage contributes to a cleaner roof, preventing a clogged roof drainage system.
Conduct Ongoing Commercial Roof Preventive Maintenance
Many of the problems that develop on a commercial roof are easily avoidable by having a regular preventive maintenance plan. Conducting roof maintenance should occur at least once a year. The roof inspector will look at all common failure points and fix minor issues detected. Open flashings, holes in the roof membrane, and missing shingles are common issues found during a routine roof inspection. Catching and fixing these minor issues are key to maintaining the life of your roof. The longer you ignore or procrastinate fixing a minor problem on your commercial roof, the more likely it is for the problem to develop into something much more complex needing major repairs.
According to the Firestone Building Products Owner’s Manual, “Firestone Building Products recommends that all roofing systems be inspected twice annually (usually in the spring and fall) as well as after any severe weather events. Although inspections may be performed by any qualified person selected by the building owner, Firestone recommends that at least one inspection per year be conducted by the Firestone-licensed applicator that installed your roof.”
It is important to mention that safety is critical when conducting a rooftop inspection. According to The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), “Falls remain the leading cause of work-related deaths in construction, accounting for more than one in three (36.4%) of the total number of fatalities in this industry.” The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) states, “In 2020, there were 351 fatal falls to a lower level out of 1,008 construction fatalities.” Whether you conduct the inspection yourself or hire a professional, it is most important to plan ahead to ensure that the job is done safely.
In summary, the sooner you have commercial roof damage repaired, the less likely it is for your leak to end up causing significant water damage. Contact GSM Roofing to discuss the Exceptional Roof Protection Plan, which will extend the life of your commercial roof through ongoing preventive maintenance.