The roof can be one of the largest financial investments in any commercial property; However, it can also become one of the most neglected parts of a building. A well-maintained roof is the first line of defense against extreme weather or structural damage. Regular monitoring and maintenance by the property manager is essential.
Roof problems, if not addressed early, create a significant headache for property managers who oversee the day-to-day operation of a building. Ignoring the roof wear warning signs can also result in the need for a complete roof replacement – an expensive and stressful endeavor.
As a property manager, it is your responsibility to maintain and secure a property in order to provide tenants with the best experience possible. Roof maintenance is an important but often neglected part of building maintenance. These four tips can help you identify roof problems before damage becomes severe or, better yet, prevent damage from occurring in the first place.
- Make sure your roof is properly drained
Many properties are surrounded by trees or other greenery. Dirt can easily collect and block the roof’s drainage system, putting stress on the roof structure. While roofs are designed as a shield against water and other elements, blockage from heavy rain or snow can turn your roof into an ad hoc swimming pool – and that’s not the kind of “roofing” that residents or tenants will enjoy. Regularly clean gutters and drains as well as valleys, pipes and skylights to avoid damage.
- Always be careful of who is on your roof and check for mechanical repairs.
There is usually a lot of mechanical equipment on the roof, including HVAC technology, that needs frequent repair or maintenance. At the time of maintenance, the roof is usually treated with the same hardness as a concrete floor. Dropped tools or the sheer weight of repair equipment can cause roof damage, which can immediately lead to leaks or flat tires. In fact, 40 percent of all roof problems occur due to human error. Identify these problems right away and avoid more serious problems later.
- Understand how resident turnover can affect your roof.
In retail space in particular, property managers have to deal with a certain degree of turnover from tenants and land use. Tenants often make additions or improvements to the building equipment, which means that the roof is penetrated to different degrees. Make sure that all seams and connections are secure and that sealants and covers are intact. Encourage tenants to alert you to any damage or leaks immediately, regardless of where or why the problems occur. If a property is not controlled and the finished work is not adequately sealed, it can lead to serious structural damage. It is better to know now than later.
- Finally, consider your location and your climate.
Wear and tear concerns vary by climate and property managers should revise their maintenance schedules accordingly. In the south, for example, thunderstorms can occur and cause temperatures to drop by 30 degrees within minutes. Heavy rain and moisture create a breeding ground for mold. Sun damage can shorten the life of sealants and other roofing products. Wind, rain and snow can cause leaks or other structural damage. Finally, local wildlife, from squirrels and raccoons to termites and birds, can take advantage of entry holes and take up residence in your building. Each new season brings unique challenges. So make sure you have a special maintenance schedule every day of the year.
In general, knowing the age and condition of a roof can help you measure the urgency of roof maintenance and assess problems ahead. However, equipping yourself with these four roof maintenance tips can extend the life of a commercial roof and prevent minor problems from becoming major headaches for both you and your tenants.
Bill Lomel is President of Sentry Roof Services LLC. Sentry Roof is a full-service company for commercial and industrial roofers operating in all areas of the roofing industry. Sentry Roof has been a recognized leader in the roofing industry in the Southeast for over 35 years, working on a wide variety of projects including roof installation, roof construction and roof repair. Sentry Roof is known for its expertise and deep knowledge of various roofing systems to help its customers choose the most effective roof for their building. Bill joined Sentry Roof in 1995. As President, he is primarily responsible for managing strategy, business development, processes and team chemistry.