The Importance of Commercial Roofing Maintenance
The roof is one of the most important components of any structure - it’s what protects the inside from the elements, and even plays an integral part in maintaining the temperature of the building. Unfortunately, the roof is also the most neglected investment for most property managers - it’s estimated that 90% of property owners are ‘reactive’ versus being ‘proactive’ when it comes to roof maintenance and repairs. Most won’t even think of the roof until there’s an immediate problem (i.e leaks), and they are forced to contact their preferred local commercial roofing contractor with an emergency roof repair service request. We understand - what is out of sight is often out of mind.
However, building owners should keep one thing in mind; the cost of roofing has multiplied by 2-3 times over the past couple of decades, while the cost of commercial roofing maintenance and minor repairs has largely stayed the same! All of this is to say that proper roofing maintenance is necessary to prevent disasters from popping up in the first place and to better protect the building’s annual maintenance budget, as they can do.
While commercial flat roofs have some similarities to a residential pitched roof, they are designed very differently to address very different building uses and will require a more skilled roofing contractor to install and maintain. Generally, commercial roofs are flat, however, the reality is they have a gradual slope hence the reason they are called “low slope roofing systems.”
Other roof types such as shingles, slate, and clay tiles are pitched at a minimum of 10/12 (or greater than 18 degrees), and because of that, they are known as “steep slope roofs.”
Steep slope roofs are designed to shed water whereas low slope roofs are designed to waterproof the building; as a result, preventative maintenance is a must on flat roofs. These types of roofs require a special type of roofer to install and repair which are known as commercial or industrial roofers.
Commercial roofs that are well-maintained are proven to last much longer than roofs that see little to no annual maintenance. Poorly managed roofs can deteriorate and begin to fail in as little as 12-15 years, as reported by the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA). To put things in perspective, a new commercial roof should last anywhere from 20 to 25 years, or even longer when well-maintained. Consistent roofing maintenance helps property owners maximize their return on investment when they purchase a new roof, helping avoid sudden costly repairs.
So what exactly is preventative maintenance, and how can you extend the life of your roof? This blog will help inform you of the benefits of preventative maintenance when you should schedule commercial roof maintenance, and what the best roof maintenance plan entails.
Building Owner A spends $500,000 on a new roof that is designed and warranted to last 20 years. However, this owner doesn’t do any basic roof maintenance so the roof fails prematurely after 12 years - and because of their lack of maintenance, the roof manufacturer is not liable for the building owner’s carelessness.
Looking at the math for Building Owner A, he spent on average $41,600/year ($500,000 reroof cost / 12 years).
On the other hand, Building Owner B installs the same $500,000 roof with a 20-year warranty. However, this owner spends a small amount every year for basic preventative commercial roof maintenance, and the roof lasts 25 years while being protected by the warranty for materials and workmanship-related issues.
For Building Owner B he spent on average $23,000/year ($500,000 plus $75,000 in maintenance / 25 years). Consistent basic roofing maintenance helps property owners maximize their return on investment when they purchase a new roof, helping avoid sudden costly repairs!
Commercial Roofing Maintenance Saves Money
Commercial roofing maintenance is one of the easiest and least expensive services that can save a building owner from countless headaches that result from emergency roof leaks caused by a lack of basic maintenance. Proactively addressing roofing issues before they lead to roofing emergencies (i.e leaks that will undoubtedly occur) will help keep tenants and equipment dry, operations running smoothly, lower energy bills, and maintain overall business productivity.
By staying on top of your preventative roof maintenance, you’ll keep your roof warranty in good standing, extend the service life of your roof, eliminate the likelihood of last-minute emergency roof service requests, and be more in control of your annual maintenance budget.
One of the more intangible benefits is the peace of mind that occurs when the manager responsible for building operations can guarantee that they have taken every precaution to protect their residents and tenants from the consequences of not performing basic preventative roof maintenance.
Having a commercial roofing preventative maintenance program in place ensures qualified roofing experts will survey your entire roof including the field, flashing, roof drains, penetrations, metal flashing details, and other related components of the roof (i.e masonry, rising walls, etc.).
Depending on the type of preventative roof maintenance plan, the maintenance team may also clean all the roof drainage points such as drains, gutters, and scuppers as well as perform minor repairs onsite (i.e open seams, membrane punctures, deteriorated sealant repairs).
Following the assessment, a thorough roof inspection report will be generated that includes a description of the overall condition of the roof, type of roof, estimated age (if warranty paperwork is on hand), roof assembly, multiple photos of different sections of the roof including any deficiencies found, and any additional recommendations.
Since preventative roof maintenance is a planned event, more than likely the roofer will schedule the next inspection on the spot, relieving the burden of you having to even think about it!
From our experience, a majority of emergency service requests stem from trivial issues on the roof that go unaddressed for a period of time. Eventually, however, rain arrives and those trivial issues become an inescapable fire drill that must be fixed immediately, requiring a sudden emergency roof repair. When a building owner or property manager isn’t on top of their roof’s essential maintenance, the issue isn’t just concentrated in one area but becomes a much more widespread problem. Unfortunately, a building owner is then forced to consider more expensive options (i.e replacing the whole roof), as minor spot repairs will no longer do the trick.
Commercial roof maintenance will eliminate the aforementioned nuisances that result from neglecting upkeep. Curious about what a roofing maintenance contract includes? The next segment is everything that is usually covered in regularly scheduled roofing maintenance.
How do you perform commercial roofing maintenance?
There are a few things a property manager can do to assist in roofing maintenance, but most of the work should be left to roofing experts, like the folks at E.C. Malone Roofing. Removing and disposing of debris and trash on the roof and taking notes/photographs of things that look out of place is about all the property manager or building engineer should bother with. A professional who knows what to look for under every nook and cranny will be the best bet for performing proper commercial roofing maintenance.
All roofing companies will have contracts that include their unique preventative maintenance services. Here at Malone Roofing, we go above and beyond to deliver quality results that will keep you dry and your budget protected. Below is a list of what is included in commercial roofing maintenance.
Clean and remove debris - branches and trash find their way onto roofs all the time. A preventative maintenance contract will ensure debris is cleaned from the roof surface, drains, gutters, and scuppers. Trash not only looks sloppy, but piling junk can be a hazard if it causes sections of the roof to pond water, which can lead to other issues (i.e premature roof failure, open seams, deck deflection, etc.). For businesses in the food industry, grease traps located on the roof need to be cleaned consistently because grease buildup is problematic and ultimately leads to roof failure.
Thorough Inspection - a professional will inspect all areas of the roof for various issues including punctures, open seams, and other voids that act as an entryway for water into the building. Inspection is especially important around drainage points because this is where all the water is directed. They can become clogged and develop pools of water. Over time ponding water becomes stagnant and eventually degrades the roof membrane leading to leaks and premature roof failure. Photo documentation of the roof will be collected and shared with the property owner as well.
Replace deteriorated sealant - sealants are installed at various details such as penetrations, terminations, and joints. More specifically, the sealant is installed where you need to seal a small opening or you’re waterproofing a unique detail (i.e above clamps on pipe boots, pourable sealer pockets aka “pitch pockets,” exposed termination bar, and various joints.) Over time, exposure to the elements causes the sealant to dry out and start cracking, with complete delamination occurring in some cases. Preventative maintenance service technicians will survey these areas of the roof and reapply sealant to any areas where needed. Caulks and sealants on the roof are not guaranteed under a manufacturer’s warranty because they won’t last as long as the roof warranty will and are considered to be maintenance items.
Address other concerning problems - there is a myriad of other roofing concerns that could lead to problems that are not mentioned above. If more serious issues are discovered on the roof during the inspection, Malone Roofing will work closely with the building owner to formulate a plan that addresses the problem(s) while trying to be mindful of the customer’s budget.
Won’t commercial roofing insurance cover my roof?
A major reason that property owners are reactive vs proactive with roof service may be because they believe their property’s insurance policy will cover emergency roof repairs. Unfortunately, as we’ve seen, that’s not a smart strategy to maintain your roof and, over time, will cost you more money. While major weather events like “acts of god” can cause major damage that is often covered, insurance companies across the board will deny insurance claims for emergency roof repairs when there is evidence that the policyholder neglected basic routine maintenance and repairs.
All too often building owners are blindsided with a massive bill to fix their roofs and their insurance company won’t pay a dime to help. For commercial roofs, repairs can easily run up to the tens of thousands. For a full replacement, the average roof replacement cost is well into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Most businesses don’t have an extra six figures burning a hole in their pocket, therefore the advice is to protect your roof with a routine preventative maintenance program to protect your roof and your bank account.
Who should perform commercial roofing maintenance, and when?
Only a trusted, local professional roofing contractor should execute a preventative commercial roofing maintenance program for your business. Experts with decades of experience will perform the most comprehensive inspections, furnish a thorough roof inspection report, as well as check every box when completing minor roof repairs.
Established roofing companies know where to look and what to look for when it comes to assessing the overall condition of your property’s roof. A preventative roof maintenance plan should be consistent, planned, and easy to follow. A professional commercial roofer will do their due diligence and contact you to remind you of your scheduled commercial roofing maintenance. The information in a roof assessment report will assist you in annual budget planning and future Capex planning so you’re not caught off guard with expensive surprise repairs.
In all, the commercial roofing maintenance contract should be an effortless experience for the client. You should work with your preferred roofer to decide the frequency of service, which is typically semi-annually - after autumn and in the summer are two of the most common times for scheduled maintenance. Some businesses elect to have four or more service dates a year if they are in a region that experiences more extreme weather (i.e hail, wind, etc.) and/or in areas where there’s a lot of overhead foliage above or near the roof.
At a minimum, once a year your roof should be inspected to address any minor issues before they become unexpected emergencies.
Roof maintenance is very much like car or truck maintenance. If you don’t take care of it, it won’t last very long. The truth is, neglecting to take care of your roof, or car will result in an investment that prematurely fails and leaves you paying dearly for it in the end. Commit today to taking care of your commercial roof and protecting yourself from costly and unexpected repairs!
If you have any questions about commercial roofing maintenance programs, contact E.C. Malone roofing today and one of our specialists will be happy to walk you through all the services we offer. A better way to take care of your property is just a phone call away!