From Teddy Williams
From the August 2019 edition
M.Maintaining the roof of a building or facility can be a tedious task. Often times, the roof is the first line of defense against the elements. It is an important structure that must be carefully monitored and maintained to protect the overall integrity of a structure. Roof leaks are often difficult to spot and can lead to interior damage, unhappy occupants, and costly repairs.
Roof materials and methods all play a role in the performance of this building envelope component. Here contractors install a mechanically fastened TPO roof using an induction welding system for membrane fastening. (Photo: Western Specialty Contractors)
Western Specialty Contractors, a St. Louis, MO-based building envelope specialist, recently shared insights from three managers in the company’s roofing industry. In this article Keegan Tune, head of the roofing division in Kansas City; Jack Schneider, head of the roofing division in St. Louis; and Michael Boyle, Head of Peoria Roofing Industry, discuss the roofing issues that are of greatest concern to their facility management customers and the questions these customers ask when maintaining their roofs.
How much life does my roof have? This is a tricky question that even roofers find it difficult to answer the first time they see a roof. Most properly installed new roofs come with a 15 to 20 year manufacturer’s warranty. So this is a good place to start when determining when the roof was installed. However, many things can affect the life of the roof, such as: B. slope, composition, weather and climate, installation, pedestrian traffic, maintenance and even the interior conditions of the building.
If you’re not sure about the age of your roof, let it speak for itself. As roofs near the end of their lifespan, they begin to “speak” in the form of leaks. The older a roof gets, the more it leaks and the more it costs to repair. If, despite your best efforts to fix it, your roof leaks every time it rains, it’s probably time to replace it. Since every roof and situation is different, you should schedule an inspection with your roofer to answer this question.
What Are Effective Methods To Identify And Stop Leaks? Roof leaks are often a nuisance for a building owner or facility manager. Leaks are often difficult to find and can damage interior fittings and cause discomfort – and, if left unchecked, unhappy occupants. These leaks can become a nightmare if the decision is made to replace the entire roof of the building – and it is still leaking.
Most building structures today are made from many different materials that move at different speeds. Bringing all of these components together is complex and at the same time can make the roof more prone to errors and failures in the roofing.
When it comes to roofing, details about penetrations on the parapet walls and building systems are very important for successful projects. These are the points where most of the leaks occur. However, for a canopy project, it may not be enough for all the details to be done correctly.
Often times, the materials overlying these details have also aged and weathered, causing deterioration and permeating moisture. This moisture then finds its way behind the newly installed roof.
It is important to keep track of the condition of components that protrude above the roof, such as the roof. B. a penthouse, elevator shafts, stair towers, parapet walls and cladding, and to evaluate the parapet walls both inside and out. The most visible signs of possible avenues for water infiltration are broken / missing masonry, deteriorated mortar and waterproofing joints, deteriorated concrete, etc. Sometimes even moisture can enter which looks like a solid wall but can be porous. If these signs are present, there is most likely a leak.
If such repairs need to be made, it is extremely important that the new roof is well protected and that the original installer is notified. If the roofing project is in the budgeting phase, it is important to evaluate these components and make the repairs before installing a new roof. Not only is this the right way to re-roof a roof, it is also the most cost-effective technique.
What are some maintenance tips to extend the overall life of the roof? Roofing materials such as BUR, TPO, EPDM, PVC, modified bitumen and even green roofs can be susceptible to environmental stressors such as organic debris, growing vegetation or pond water. Other causes of premature roof failure can include poor craftsmanship, improper flashing, clogged or leaking downspouts, or damage from other contractors.
All types of roofs are susceptible to environmental stressors, and these
This includes organic waste, growing vegetation and pond water. (Photo: Western Specialty Contractors)
If the roofs are not properly maintained, open seams, cracks, blistering, wrinkling, and tearing can occur. This can result in costly damage to the interior and exterior of a building if not immediately identified and repaired.
A roof inspection by an experienced roofer is recommended at least twice a year, preferably in spring and autumn and after severe weather such as hail, heavy rain and strong wind, in order to determine any roof damage.
A good way to start a roof preventive maintenance program is to create a file with all of the records on that roof. This can include warranties, repair and maintenance records, previous inspections, and original drawings and specifications for the building.
Note that the ultimate goal of the preventive maintenance program is to get the maximum life from the roof at the lowest possible cost. Therefore, keeping an accurate record of the history of each roof is critical to overall maintenance.
There are several basic preventive measures facility managers / owners can take all year round to extend the life of a roof and prevent water from entering. These include the following:
- Remove debris such as leaves, branches, debris, and debris from gutters, scuppers, downspouts, and drains to ensure proper water drainage.
- Keep metal roof components such as veneers, expansion joints, and pitch pockets in good condition by replacing damaged sealant, painting rust, and making necessary repairs.
- Maintain roof equipment (satellite dishes, solar panels, air conditioners, skylights) and check the roof for service calls and repairs to make sure the roof has not been damaged in the process.
- Repair roof coatings and membranes damaged by spilled oils, greases, coolants, and other liquids.
- Minimize roof traffic by authorized personnel and install sidewalk covers in high-traffic areas.
What notable roofing developments have been introduced in the recent past? Roof coatings are an area where supply has grown significantly, but these are not suitable for every roof, and certainly not in every situation. Coatings have also allowed some less skilled contractors to tackle projects that they do not have the expertise to carry out. The R-value requirements are constantly increasing, so it is important to know the local regulations and compliance requirements.
More recently, the Energy Code laws that some states have passed and others have not (e.g. R-30 isolation code above rooftop terrace) have also changed.
Roof coatings over existing roofs with long-term NDL guarantees (No Dollar Limit) are becoming more and more common. There are new products that minimize or prevent odors from entering the building through air inlets and openings. In some cases, the R-values can be increased without increasing the units and mechanical equipment by using a new insulating material.
What are some tips for working with contractors for the best results? Evaluate the contractor as a whole – taking into account their reputation, qualifications and reliability, not just price.
Don’t assume that all contractors have the same level of expertise and qualifications. Do you have a process to measure the level of expertise and qualifications of the contractors under consideration? Research the expertise and qualifications of potential contractors. Some contractors are better able than others to solve your roofing problems, and hiring the wrong one can lead to more problems rather than a solution. You may even incur more expensive repair costs in the future because the contractor did not fix the problem adequately or the repair did not take as long as expected. Knowing what questions to ask a specialist company will help you articulate your decision. Sample questions are:
- What similar buildings have you been working on?
- What similar problems have you solved in the past?
- What do your customers say about you?
- Can you solve all of my building’s problems or do I have to hire multiple contractors for this job?
Don’t think that all contractors offer the same level of reliability. Will your contractor keep their guarantee? Will they be in business for the duration of the warranty? Will they come back for repairs if necessary? Too often people lose money by hiring unreliable contractors. Also, make sure you choose a contractor who doesn’t run away from problems.
Most importantly, make sure you and your organization are getting the protection and security you deserve. Ask them the names and numbers of their previous clients, then talk to them about their experience with the contractor.
Don’t accept reactive communication plans. How, when and why will your contractor communicate with you? What information will they provide you and when will it be made available to you in the course of the project? Do you have a plan? Do you need to find them when you need something? Is the project on schedule? How is disruption to the tenant reduced to a minimum? You need to have all the information about the project at hand so that you can communicate effectively with your colleagues and residents. You shouldn’t have to call the contractor for answers. You should already know.
Don’t treat all possible solutions alike. If you receive suggestions from multiple contractors, the solutions are not the same. There are factors to consider such as price, tenant impact, security, materials, and schedule. Make sure you understand these and how they affect you and your business. One suggestion might be more expensive than another, but the quality of the work could help avoid future repair costs.
Williams is Content Marketing Manager at Western Specialty Contractors, a St. Louis, MO-based company specializing in the restoration of building envelopes and parking garages in the United States.
Do you have a comment Share your thoughts in the comments section below or email the editor at [email protected]