YOUR ROOF IS A HUGE INVESTMENT, TAKE CARE OF IT AND MAKE IT LAST LONGER!
Are you looking for ways to extend the life of your roof and lengthen the number of years it keeps you dry? Are you willing to put some time and effort into your roof now to make sure it lasts longer and protects you better? Let’s look at 2 basic tips to help you maintain your roof and make it last as long and operate as effectively as possible. There is no need to write complex goals and plans – following these two steps will extend the life of your roof.
Tip #1 – Inspect Your Roof Regularly
A good roof inspection can be compared to the check engine light in your vehicle. When everything with your car is running properly, the light stays off and you drive your car just like normal. However, once something that is related to the engine begins to fail or isn’t running properly, that check engine light turns on and lets you know that you need to pop the hood or go to a mechanic to have your car looked at. In most cases, even if the light hadn’t turned on, your car would probably run fine for a few thousand more miles. However, over time, you would start to see a decline in your car’s performance, and what was once a single problem may soon become many problems.
In the same way, your roof can often be underperforming for many months without your knowledge, and then one day all the problems become evident and you wonder what happened. Well, the problems have been developing over time, but you were unaware of them because you weren’t inspecting your roof properly.
The way a roof inspection is similar to a check engine light is this: while your roof may appear fine from underneath, if you get on your roof for your bi-annual inspection, you may find some problems that you were unaware of before the inspection. Now, instead of waiting for the problem to become evident from underneath, your proactivity has allowed you to detect the problem early, and your roof’s check engine light is on. Once you perform an inspection and see the problems on your roof, you can now take care of the problems, which will be tip #2.
So you like the idea of regularly inspecting your roof and making sure no problems have arisen that you were unaware of. You want to be proactive and extend the life of your roof by preventing premature failures and repairs. How should you go about planning your inspections?
Inspection Rule #1: Make a Plan
The key to performing regular, proper inspections is to develop an inspection plan, write it down, and keep it where you or the responsible party will see it regularly. If you don’t have a plan, or if you have a plan and it isn’t where you will see it, it becomes very easy to get caught up in the daily grind of maintaining your building and to forget about inspecting your roof.
Inspection Rule #2: Determine the Frequency of Your Inspections
The frequency of your roof inspections is a decision that will change with every situation. Are you located in an area that experiences lots of severe weather and high winds? Are you located in an area with significant temperature swings? Inspect more often. Or, are you located in a moderate climate with no trees nearby your building? You can space out your inspections more than most.
The key to making this decision is to analyze the environment around your building, and the likelihood that something will happen that will cause damage to your roof. If damage is more likely based on your location and situation, you should inspect more often. If damage is less likely, space out your inspections as your roof is at much lower risk and therefore it is not the best use of your time to constantly perform inspections.
Inspection Rule #3: Stick to Your Plan
A plan is only as good as its execution. You can write down the most sophisticated inspection plan the building management industry has ever seen, but if you don’t act on that plan, it was just a waste of time to write it down at all. You have to remain disciplined and carry out the plan you have written down if you want it to have any impact on the life of your roof.
What to Expect from Your Roof Inspection
When you inspect your roof the first couple of times, it can be overwhelming to know what you should be looking for and what you should expect. Should the roof be in great shape? Should it be in terrible shape? As we said before, the condition of your roof depends largely on your environment, but you should still have an idea of what to expect. Typically, there are three different things you will see when you inspect your roof.
Inspection Item #1: Damaged, Needs Immediate Repair
When you are inspecting your roof, you will likely encounter roof features that have somehow been damaged, cannot function properly, and are important to the operation of your building. For instance, you will see that a skylight has a hole in it that must be patched, a gutter has fallen off the roof, or a protrusion has separated from the roof material and started to leak. Any of these items should be put at the top of your to-do list for repair.
Inspection Item #2: Damaged, Needs Repair in the Future
This list consists of items that are damaged, but possibly aren’t an immediate need for repair. Maybe a protrusion has cracked above the roof surface. This isn’t leading to any leaks in the roof, but it could if the damage becomes worse. These items should be noted on your inspection sheet, and may require scheduling additional inspections in the future to make sure the situation hasn’t worsened.
Inspection Item #3: Showing Signs of Wear, No Repair Needed Yet
These items occur when you are on your roof and you see something that has begun to show signs of wear and tear, yet it isn’t damaged badly enough or isn’t significant enough to be repaired yet. These items could be certain patches of roof where it looks like temperature swings may have started to cause a hole in the roof. While there is no hole yet, and not one expected in the near future, it is important that you write down the quadrant of the roof the spot is located in and check it next time you are inspecting the roof. Areas of your roof that fit into list number 3 are exceedingly important to note on your inspection sheet, otherwise you may forget about them and leave them
What to Look for During Your Roof Inspection
Check the general condition of the roof, remove debris, check the walkways, and look for rust (if applicable). Check how the roof is draining, make sure the gutters are clear, downspouts are operating properly, and look for ponding water.
Check that any flashings in the roof surface still provide a watertight seal on the roof, and make sure the flashings aren’t cracked, aren’t blocked, and can still properly perform their intended purpose.
Do you have pipes, AC units, vents, skylights, expansion joints, or other penetrations? Again, check for a watertight seal and that the penetrations are meeting their intended purpose. Check for condensation around AC units and ensure it isn’t dripping below the roof surface.
Tip #2: Make Regular Roof Maintenance a Priority
Once you have your inspection plan and begin performing regular inspections, you need to also make sure you are performing regular maintenance and repairs. If you are finding problems with your roof in your inspections, but stop there and never go any further, what’s the point? You have to follow through with the items noted for repair, and repair them.
So, let’s say you perform the first tip, and plan and execute regular inspections. Now, you are ready to make the repairs that you identified as needs in the inspection. How should you go about making your repairs? There are several different avenues you can take here.
Perform the Repairs Yourself
This is oftentimes the quickest and easiest option, but maybe not the optimal solution for your roof. If you are a handyman, or have one on your team, this can be a great option to save time and money. However, if you don’t know what you’re doing, you could cause further damage to your roof and end up spending more time and money and with a bigger headache than if you had just hired out the repairs originally. Don’t do the repairs yourself if you are unqualified and risk damaging the roof further.
Hire a Professional
Your next option for the repairs is to hire a professional. This is usually the best way to ensure you get quality repairs, but occasionally you won’t get the repairs made in a timely manner. There are some key things to look for in a contractor before you hire them. If you don’t already have a relationship with them, you should check their references, check their past body of work, and check their website. These three things can give you a good idea of their competencies, their quality of work, and their integrity.
Of course, if you are hiring a professional, we hope you’ll consider us when looking at bids. We have crews dedicated only to making roof repairs, and we offer annual maintenance agreements that allow us to make any repairs you need for an annual fee.
If you own a building, you also own a roof. That roof is a serious investment and failing to keep it in good shape could cost your company a lot of money in unnecessary repairs or replacements. Unfortunately, roofs don’t come with a check engine light to tell you when they need repairs. But, if you perform regular inspections, you can become your own check engine light and ensure the roof receives the repairs it needs, when it needs them. In doing so, you will extend the life of your roof, save money, and prevent headaches.