Staying on Top of Roof Maintenance is Job One


The old cliché that you have to spend money to make money is often times true when it comes to maintaining your roof’s envelope condition. In today’s uncertain economic climate, companies across the country are not just looking to make money, they are also tightening their belts, and looking for ways to save. Even during these challenging times, it is important to remember that one has to spend money to also save it, especially with regard to a building’s roof.

Roof issues are the least visible part of the building envelope, hence, out of sight out of mind. What you don’t see can ultimately hurt or damage building integrity. The key here is proactive involvement by either in-house maintenance, or a property management company, coupled with a qualified and experienced roof consultant in determining the roof’s current condition. This activity is known as a “Roof Condition Survey,” to protect the building envelope starting from the top down.

Condition surveys should be scheduled or conducted semi-annually as a rule of thumb as there is no such thing as a maintenance-free roof system. All roofs have a limited lifespan and sooner or later they need repair, restoration, or complete replacement. Even if a roofing consultant was not involved in the building’s construction, developing a preventative maintenance plan can further extend the roof’s life. It can also save money by proactively correcting problems before they become minor leaks which could as a result cause major leaking or water intrusion leading to subsequent structural damage.

The results of a roof asset management program with semiannual surveys can optimize roof performance, save the building owner money, and allow for replacement or repairs.   It’s better to proactively work with a roofing consultant and not wait to react during a crisis. Remember the process of aging starts the moment the roof system is installed. If you are fortunate enough to observe a new roof installation you will see it in pristine condition representing how it should stay providing a maintenance program is put in place.

As a roofing consultant, I tell my clients to never get too comfortable and have a false sense of security about the roof.  When issues go unnoticed it compounds the effects resulting in more costly repairs.

Here’s some sound advice and a few items to consider:

  • Hire a qualified roof consultant to perform a condition survey. This will make sure you are staying on top of failing conditions, installation problems, severe weather damage, and general aging.
  • Conduct semiannual inspections in the spring and the fall prepare you for the summer heat and any adverse winter conditions that may occur.
  • Verify warranty conditions. If the roof is currently under warranty, any repair issues that exist must be repaired by a manufacturer approved applicator. If repairs are done by anyone other than an approved roof contractor the warranty will be deemed void.
  • Walk the roof and perform a visual inspection and take these four action steps:

>>  Look closely at the exterior conditions of the membrane system and all of its flashings, membrane and metal. Notice any premature deterioration.
>>  Check for unsecure penetration flashings and caulking terminations for general wear and tear. Look for areas appearing darker in the field or perimeter membrane and especially in or around drains and scuppers. This can indicate the presence of “ponding” water.
>>  Check the general conditions around any roof top equipment such as HVAC units, roof jacks, or screen-wall units. Repairs due to leaking or failed units by mechanical, electrical, or plumbing (MEP) contractors may have inadvertently caused damage to or around the existing flashing. Screws, nails, or metal shavings can cause damage resulting in leaks.
>>  Perform general cleanup. Remove any debris from the roof especially around drains, overflow drains, and scupper areas. Check for unknown spills of any kind that may prematurely deteriorate membrane or metal.

Ultimately, the goal of ongoing maintenance is to protect the interest of the building owners, extend the roof’s life, and prevent costly leaks and damage. Many building owners and businesses are understandably looking for ways to cut costs. Involving a roofing consultant in the process as both a precursor and with an in-place maintenance programs can end up saving the company more than it spends and keep you on top of your roof maintenance.

Sam Chiodo, Roofing Specialist

Samuel Chiodo, RRO, is a specialist in the field of Roof Technologies and Science. He has over 25 years of experience in the roofing industry specializing in; Modified Bitumen, Built-Up-Roofing, Single Ply Membranes, Cold/Hot Fluid Applied Systems, Metal, Clay/Concrete Tile, Asphalt Shingles, as well as Spray Applied Polyurethane Foam and Coating Systems. Mr. Chiodo is well versed in the principles of roof flashing, insulation and design problems. He is focused on providing water tight roof systems and envelope integrity for Building Owners, Developers and Property Managers.

Sam Chiodo is a member of RCI (Roof Consultants Institute). He has been published in several roof construction and building maintenance magazines. Mr. Chiodo an active participant with GCI’s continuing professional education and research program, as well as the development of information relating to the design and construction of roofing, glass and glazing, waterproofing and building envelope systems. 

You may reach Mr. Chiodo here: