By: Ed LaMont, Jr., Senior Project Manager, Roof Maintenance & Leak Repair Department
By properly maintaining roofing systems, many crisis situations created by roof failures can be avoided, even prevented, along with the hassle, potential property loss and financial burden that can result from unexpected leaks.
Many times failures or leaks are initiated by extreme conditions— hurricanes, heat and cold to name a few. But more times than not, problems stem from plain old rainstorms. On a particularly stormy day the roof maintenance department at Chamberlin Roofing & Waterproofing could receive over 100 new roof repair projects, the majority of which could have been prevented with a proactive roof maintenance system.
A roof leak can be a very serious problem for everyone affected. At a minimum, a roof failure can be a catalyst for the development of mold growth in the building and ruin or destroy its contents. Be it merchandise, machinery, furniture, computers or paperwork that is damaged the effects can be devastating. Even worse, a major roof failure can force a business to temporarily close its doors. At that point the issue is two-fold: lost goods and lost business. Unexpected repair costs, coupled with the associated issues a roof problem causes tenants, can lead to loss of goodwill at the least, or the loss of a tenant at the worst.
Truth is, few building investments are more valuable than a roofing system, yet few are more neglected. Do you budget for elevator repairs, cosmetic improvements like paint and wallpaper or other building upgrades? Naturally. Do you budget for roofing expenses? Do you take precautionary measures to maintain the roof, circumvent leaks and avoid the overall stress such a scenario can cause? Maybe not.
In many respects, a roofing system is a capital piece of equipment. Roof maintenance can and should be budgeted and planned. Doing so will better able you to avoid unexpected expenses and/or unpleasant conversations with tenants being affected by a leak. And here’s the good news— if you are proactive, most leaks can be prevented. Better yet, roofing needs can be anticipated and repairs planned. Imagine viewing roofing issues not as crises but as part of your regular maintenance schedule. Making this vision a reality is in your hands.
A regularly scheduled roof survey will help detect minor roofing deficiencies that need attention and is the starting point for a proactive, preventative roof maintenance program. A survey can help establish a baseline for deterioration so any potential problems can be monitored and addressed before they become costly and potentially disruptive to building occupants. Performing a roof survey can quite literally save thousands of dollars in the long run. What could be a $500 repair today may become a $5,000 repair over time. Repairs not addressed today may become a source for unknown leaks and subsequent mold problems. Certainly mold is something that no building owner wants to deal with for any reason.
Beyond being a low-cost means of establishing a benchmark and monitoring potential problem areas, surveys are also a requirement for many roofing manufacturers to honor warranties on materials. Further, the data collected from regular surveys can help project potential needs and costs, an essential planning tool when it comes to setting budgets.
Chamberlin recommends roof surveys twice a year. The first should take place in the early spring to note and correct damages that may have occurred in the winter; the second should be conducted in the fall to prepare the roof for winter conditions. Key components of our comprehensive surveys include a visual inspection of the roof system flashing, expansion joints, membrane and drainage systems. Samples of the roof core and sealants may also be taken for evaluation. In addition, a visual inspection of the building interior to identify and document past leaks is conducted. And photographs are used to capture current conditions clearly and accurately. Upon completion of the survey, a written report describing the existing roofing system, our evaluation and analysis is provided. This document outlines a recommended course of action and budgetary considerations.
In summary, a good roof maintenance plan pays in several ways. First, proactive and preventive maintenance can save you from the stress that emergency maintenance situations can cause, be it in the form of financial issues or tenant complaints. Second, regular roof maintenance will establish a baseline for monitoring problems and assure all warranty requirements are being met if the roof system is still under warranty. Third, and very importantly, early diagnosis of problems or potential problems can save significant amounts of money. Fourth and finally, regular maintenance can extend the life of your roof system. The benefits really do add up.