When it comes to your commercial building, you may unintentionally focus more on the upkeep of the businesses inside rather than the exterior. While a well-run building is important, so is maintenance. To be sure that all the businesses inside the building are doing well, the building itself needs to be in good shape, and the roof is one of the most critical factors for ensuring a well-kept building. Roofs protect against constant sunlight, rainfall, and wind, but after time, roofs begin to deteriorate under the onslaught of changing weather. Regular commercial roof maintenance can prevent significant damage from hindering the everyday workings of a commercial building, so developing a plan for your building is essential.
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Why Preventative Maintenance is Important for a Commercial Roof
In short, preventative maintenance is important for a commercial roof because it will nip in the bud any minor issues that can become severe (and expensive to fix) damage later. You’ll worry less about your wallet by keeping a strict and proactive eye on your roof’s condition. By keeping your roof in good shape, you’ll extend your roof’s life, making that one less matter to worry about when managing your commercial building. You’ll also reduce future liability with the documentation of your consistent maintenance, and remain compliant with your roof warranty, be your coverage material- or labor-only.
Preventative Commercial Roof Maintenance Checklist
Whether you have a flat or sloped roof, and whether or not you have add-ons such as skylights, your roof is bound to wear under the stress of the elements, and the potential damages to look for vary only little. When you get around to examining your roof, there are a few items that you should definitely check to ensure proper roof maintenance:
Inside your building, you may find mold, mildew, or leaks. While these issues might not always be related to your roof, there is a significant chance that they are, so always check the roof for signs of damage, because if the roof is in fact cracked or missing pieces (damage more likely found on a sloped roof made of metal or shingles) and causing any of those issues, the damage is in need of immediate repair.
2. Exterior structures
You’ll want to check any chimneys, vents, pipes, or other exterior components. Flat roofs in particular provide more space for equipment such as HVAC units, so there are more components that will require inspection. Minor damage such as peeling paint or rust can lead to larger issues that will later warrant full product replacement, while damage such as broken or missing parts interfere with their overall function. This will lead to problems inside the building as well as hike up your repair bill.
3. Roof surface
Flat roofs might sag with time, causing water to pool and become stagnant. When water sits too long, it weighs on your roof until it could eventually collapse. Gravel roofs are at risk of shifting and causing bare spots, leaving your roof vulnerable to extreme weather conditions while shingle roofs might be missing pieces, providing openings that can easily let in water and cause leaks. Metal roofs can corrode or loosen, which also leads to water leaks. All of these defects need to be taken care of quickly.
If flashings loosen and pull away, this will cause gaps in your roof that lead to leaks. These gaps are also quick to grow mold. Again, flat roofs are more susceptible to this type of damage, as there is more equipment, like HVAC units and skylights, requiring flashings.
5. Caulk and sealants
When caulk and sealants crack, moisture can leak through the roof, causing a list of problems. Water damage affects the roof and the interior, leading to more than a sealant repair. By checking caulk and sealants around all of your equipment, you can prevent more interior damage.
6. Clear drains
Make sure to clean your drains and gutters of debris. During inclement weather, debris can clog your roofing system or blow across the roof and cause damage, especially if your roof has already started to wear down thanks to the elements.
Keep an eye on all pipe and equipment supports. When these start to bend, sag, or break, it’s definitely time to replace these parts. They are not only failing to properly support your equipment, which causes the equipment to fail as well, but the broken supports can dig into the roof if you wait too long to repair them, causing further damage.
8. Walkways and catwalks
These are important to check not only to prevent costly repairs, but to prevent work injuries for your employees. Be sure to examine everything from the structural soundness down to the paint. Simple damage such as peeling paint can lead to rust, which weakens the metal until the structure is no longer secure.
9. Keep an access log
By keeping track of who goes onto the roof and when, you can keep any employees or contractors liable in the event of an accident or unexpected damage. Knowing who or what caused damage will help you prevent additional accidents in the future.
10. Schedule regular inspections
As building owner or manager, you are not a roof maintenance professional. In order to be absolutely certain that your roof is well maintained, schedule an inspection from someone who knows what to look for. Something small you might have overlooked could be something a professional would want to examine further. It’s best to schedule these inspections at the start of spring and fall when the more brutal weather conditions of winter and summer are likely to have worn your roof and significant damage would be more prevalent.
In the midst of managing your commercial building, the last thing you’ll want to deal with are severe repairs on the building itself. Repairs to the building mean interruptions to everyday workflow, which means more money lost. Avoid this hassle altogether by keeping a strict eye on your roof and all of its components. The roof is your building’s first line of defense against the weather, so maintaining it properly and consistently benefits the entire building. The petty cash you’ll hand out for a few inspections will be nothing in comparison to the cost of a full repair.