WE’VE ALL HAD IT HAPPEN TO US. WE ALL HOPE IT NEVER HAPPENS AGAIN.
What have we all experienced? Unexpected expenses. Whether it has been on our car when the transmission went out, our home when the water heater went out, or the building we manage when the roof began to leak. These unexpected things pop up and become a priority almost immediately. They happen with such regularity, in that they happen to basically everyone, that they shouldn’t be unexpected. We should be prepared for them, which is why financial gurus tell you to prepare an emergency fund for these “unexpected” expenses.
We should pay the small price to regularly have our car inspected and tuned up to avoid the large ticket repairs. It is a good idea to have the HVAC unit and other large equipment in your home inspected regularly. And yet, it seems as though many times the advice we receive regarding our personal life is never transferred over to our professional life. We manage huge buildings under several hundred thousand square feet of roof, and yet we don’t think it’s a top priority to regularly inspect the building, and the roof, and set aside large sums of money in case something comes up. Why don’t we want to plan for the unexpected? That’s a very difficult question to answer, and it’s not one we’re going to tackle here. What we are going to look at are some very simple steps you can take to prepare for the unexpected, to prevent the damage done by unforeseen failures, and to mitigate the cost to your company when the building fails. We will do so in looking mainly at the roof on your building, as that is our industry and that is what we are knowledgeable on. While we may only look at the roofing system in this post, don’t forget that the rest of the building should also be subject to the recommendations we cover here.
The Key to Commercial Roof Maintenance Is a Plan
As a commercial building owner or as a facility manager, one of the most important things you need to have is a roof maintenance plan. A properly written and executed roof maintenance plan will extend the life of your roof by catching failures and areas in need of repair before it is too late. It is important to note that we said a properly written and executed plan is important for your commercial roof maintenance efforts. If you have the plan in your mind but never verbalize it to your team or write it down so you can remember it, you won’t see near the results that you will with a plan that everyone is aware of.
On top of writing it down, you also have to execute the plan. Writing it down on a piece of paper and hanging that paper up on the wall in your office is useless if that’s the only step you take with your plan. You have to execute the plan, ensure your team is following the plan, ensure you are remembering to follow the plan, and ensure that your roof is benefiting from the processes and procedures you have developed to stay on top of your commercial roof maintenance. Don’t waste your time writing a plan that won’t be used because you’re not committed to it. Write you plan down, show it to your team, and then commit to carrying out the plan.
Two Main Components of a Successful Commercial Roof Maintenance Plan
There are two very simple keys to a good commercial roof maintenance plan that will almost guarantee its success: regular and frequent roof inspections and regular repairs made in response to those inspections. These are the two easiest, simplest, and most obvious methods to extend the life of your roof through maintenance, and yet they are also the most ignored by building owners.
How regular should your inspections be? We recommend no fewer than two inspections per year, one in the spring and one in the fall. Two inspections in a year should allow you to catch any damage to your roof before it grows into major problems. However, you need to use your best judgment. If your building is located in a climate with extremely harsh weather, or severe temperature swings, or chemicals are in the air, you should consider inspecting more often. You should also perform special inspections of your roof after all major storms, any construction on or above the roof, installation of any new equipment, and any fire, vandalism, or other known damage.
Don’t make the mistake that so many other building owners and facility managers are making; inspect and repair your roof regularly, rather than waiting and making huge repairs later. In the long run, it will almost undoubtedly save you money.
How to Perform a Good Roof Inspection
Let’s look more closely at the roof inspection process and see how you can ensure your inspections are effective and successful. One important thing to remember is to follow a routine and a plan during each inspection. Don’t just walk around without a plan and a purpose; know before you get on the roof what you will look for, and where and when you will look for it.
The following areas should be inspected every time you are on your roof.
- Gutters, scuppers, and drains.
- Rooftop unites and penetrations.
- Surface area or field of roof.
- Flashings, roof edges, terminations, expansion and control joints.
- Search for any defects.
The order doesn’t matter as long as it stays consistent from one inspection to the next. Again, have a plan when you get on the roof so that you don’t forget to check anything while you are up there. There are also some steps you can perform while you are on the roof during your inspections that will help your roof perform better and last longer.
Another option for roof inspections that many building owners have found useful is not performing them themselves, but rather letting a third party professional inspect their roof from time to time. There are many roof inspectors out there, but it is important to bring one into your facility that wants to work for you and help you, not just make a buck.
One of our favorite roof inspectors is BuildingPower. When they get on a roof, they are consultants for you with a focus on maintenance. While they are inspecting your roof, they will clean drains for you, and their entire focus is on developing a more sustainable roofing system. If they recommend that your roof be replaced (possibly because it wasn’t properly maintained beforehand), they will recommend a white, reflective roof, which is extremely near and dear to our heart as a company. BuildingPower is a national company that tries to also keep prices manageable for their customers, despite their superior customer care and devotion to the client. Because they are so hands on, we love recommending BuildingPower to anyone looking for a commercial roof inspection.
How to Perform Quality Roof Repairs
The first key in performing roof repairs is, as with inspections, to have a plan. Don’t just get on the roof and start fixing things, but first perform your inspection, identify what needs to be corrected, and then develop a specific plan of attack for those issues you have identified. Also don’t forget that there can be tax benefits for roof repairs, so you may want to make them over the course of time rather than all at once, assuming they aren’t extremely urgent.
When repairs need to be made, these can be treated as inspections, and done by an in-house maintenance crew, or outsourced to a third party. With a third party, you will often receive a warranty that guarantees performance for a period of time, and you can rest assured the professional knows what they are doing. However, if you perform the repairs yourself, you can save money, learn how to do things in the future, and you know it will get completed how and when you want. Roof repairs should be analyzed on a per-repair basis to determine whether you should do the repairs yourself or outsource them.
If you want something to last, you need to take care of it. Whether that means washing it, putting it in a case when you’re done with it, or turning it off when you leave, you need to take care of it. Your building, more specifically your roof, is no different. You need to take care of it, which means developing a commercial roof maintenance plan, performing regular inspections and repairs, and performing special inspections after any events that may have damaged your roof. Once you develop your commercial roof maintenance plan, be sure to write it down, let your team know what it is, and then follow it.