Today’s roofing systems are more than just a cover for your building – they’re an integral part of the entire building envelope. That is why commercial roof maintenance is so important. With energy efficiency becoming a crucial goal for building owners, the roof is expected to perform functions beyond merely providing a waterproof surface on the top of the building. That means changing facilities managers’ consideration of the roof as a set-it-and-forget-it building technology to managing the roof as an asset, just as other types of investments in the building are managed.
The Ontario Building Code, which sets safety standards for commercial building construction, requires that building components such as roofs provide protection from the elements. That protection begins with proper roof design, materials selection, and installation at the time the building is constructed or remodeled—events that occur infrequently and are generally outside the scope of most businesses’ ongoing activity. In other words, most building owners and managers don’t spend too much time thinking about their roof after it’s built. But effective building protection should include a regular program of roof inspection, maintenance, and repair. These activities should be considered part of your operational planning to prolong the useful life of your roof and ensure it can protect your business from weather damage that can result in lost productivity and profitability.
Regular commercial roof maintenance will:
- Help prevent moisture build-up and roof damage
- Maximize roof service life
- Protect roofing material warranties
- Minimize repair costs
It’s important to realize that signs of serious problems don’t always appear on the roof – they may become evident inside the building. Water stains on a ceiling may indicate a leak caused by a crack or hole in the roof. It’s important to understand that even the smallest leak can be a sign of big trouble. Likewise, if the building has unexplained mold or odors inside, this may indicate water penetration. Internal water damage or mold may signal that it’s time to visually inspect the roof itself to look for problems that are likely to worsen over time.
Depending on the type of roof construction, the materials used, and the ease of access, inspections sometimes can be done by building management, but in many – if not most — cases it makes sense to hire a contractor to ensure the job is done safely and correctly. As a key component and first line of defense in the building envelope, your roof is simply too important to compromise maintenance.
The best way to avoid roof-related problems and strengthen weather resistance is through regular care and preventative maintenance. Proper commercial roof maintenance also prolongs the life of a roof and in many instances will enable you to repair rather than replace your roof when a problem is identified. The frequency of routine inspection and maintenance depends on several factors, including roof age, recent weather events, rooftop foot traffic, and conditions identified during previous inspections.
What should be considered regular commercial roof maintenance? Here are some tips for keeping your roof in top shape:
- Inspect rooftop vents and equipment to make sure they are well sealed. If metal flashing is badly deteriorated or vents are loose and not operating properly they may have to be replaced.
- Periodically secure any loose objects and remove accumulated debris such as leaves or drifted trash, which has a tendency to hold moisture and speed up the deterioration of roofing materials.
- After a severe windstorm inspect your roof for damage — even if the roof appears unscathed, it may have been damaged enough to fail during the next storm or two
- Inspections should make sure that previous repairs have stayed intact.
- Keep trees trimmed around smaller, lower commercial buildings to prevent branches from rubbing against the roof and leaves from accumulating on the roof and clogging drains and gutters.
- Check gutters and downspouts for leaves, twigs and other debris that will inhibit proper drainage.
- After a major hail event, have the roof inspected even if you are not aware of any damage.
- Have a professional roofing contractor conduct periodic inspections and maintenance to help determine the health of your roof, estimate its remaining life, and identify additional steps you can take to protect your roof and extend its life.