A Dollars and Sense Approach to Commercial Roof Maintenance
Many facility managers follow the run-to-failure “don’t fix it unless it’s broken” roof maintenance plan, which ends up costing them more in the long run. Practicing proactive roof maintenance is gaining in popularity because it has proven to be more cost-effective over time and allows for a much longer lifespan for commercial roofs.
Proactive roof maintenance is important – especially before and after winter. Harsh winter weather that hits many parts of the country typically includes dramatic temperature fluctuations. These ups and downs cause freezing, thawing and refreezing many times throughout the season. The resulting expansion and contraction can easily damage the integrity of your commercial roof. Plus, the water that results from melted snow should properly drain and naturally evaporate, but any remaining ponding water can get into open seams and cracks and also cause damage to roofing materials, lead to wet insulation and compromise the structural integrity of the building.
If a facility manager detects a leak and dispatches a roofing company to repair it and only it, they will fail to address other defects on the roof. These areas of concern can continue to worsen until another leak rears its ugly head. Then, another service call is needed and the budget takes another hit.
Facility executives who react to problems as they occur actually pay more for maintenance; an average of 25¢ per square foot annually. Those who routinely inspect and repair proactively – before problems happen – spend an average of only 14¢ per square foot annually. Plus, proactively maintained roofs last an average of 21 years compared to an average lifespan of 13 years for roofs under reactive maintenance. (RoofingContractor.com)
Being disciplined with proactive roof maintenance, which should include semi-annual professional inspections coupled with routine self-inspections, prolongs the life of a roof by minimizing leaks and other disruptions that can go unnoticed otherwise.
Facility executives naturally have limits on what they can spend on building maintenance, and the roof is certainly not the only asset funded by that line item of the budget. Big-ticket items like unexpected roofing expenses can quickly reduce the ability to address other maintenance needs and priorities. On the contrary, identifying ways to lower roofing expense can free up funds for other significant projects.
Proactive Roof Asset Management: Knowledge is Power
Access to diagnostic tools, data analysis programs and scientifically formulated restoration solutions as part of proactive roof asset management can empower decision makers to lower roofing expense and extend the life of an existing roof system. The alternative is to mistakenly jump to the conclusion that a complete tear-off and replacement is the only solution to a problem roof.
The first step in roof asset management is an inspection. The National Roofing Contractors Association recommends commercial roofs should be inspected at least twice per year. Such inspections should be more thorough than simple visual examinations, including infrared scanning, core sampling and testing of roof membranes.
A roof undergoes serious wear and tear throughout its lifetime, with factors such as weathering and degeneration taking their toll. Not always, however, does that mean the roof needs to be replaced. Too many roofs are being replaced unnecessarily because of a lack of information or bad information about the condition of the roof. Scientific testing and analysis can accurately determine remaining roof life expectancy and depletion rate, as well as whether a roof repair or restoration is a viable option over roof replacement.
Proactive roof asset management empowers the facility executive to take control of roofing-related expenditures through long-range planning. This planning is based on current condition of the roof, as well as its anticipated future condition, taking into account geography, climate and performance of similar roofing systems. Being knowledgeable and acting proactively can very well be the difference between a cost-effective roof restoration now and a much more costly total replacement later.