The Importance of Preventative Maintenance

Preventative Roof Maintenance 

Preventative Roof Maintenance is usually discussed as if it were an option.  Something that could be ignored, delayed or only done on an emergency basis.  Many people give more thought to maintaining their cars than to maintaining their roofs, but routine care extends the lives of both.  Car owners who tune up, inspect and take care of their vehicles prevent problems and keep overall expenses to a minimum.  The same premise is true of building owners who periodically check and maintain their roofs. Would you buy a new car and never change the oil or wait until the brakes failed before you fixed them? The answer is, obviously not, but on the other hand, people have love affairs with their automobiles, not their roofs.

As a property manager or owner, it’s easy to assign a cost to perform roof inspections, maintenance or replacement.  However, it is important for managers and owners to analyze the cost of nonperformance of their business, because of roof failure.  Suppose the roof drains in one bay were blocked and over the weekend the accumulated water from heavy rain deflected the roof deck, causing it to tear the membrane?  This allowed thousands of gallons of water to pour into the building.  Suppose the water damaged the file server, putting all the computer workstations off-line, perhaps damaging shipping records or reservations?  What would that cost? Suppose the leak damaged the robotics workstation, causing a two-week shutdown to an assembly line that had a contract to deliver widgets “just in time” to a major (perhaps the only) customer, and this results in the loss of a contract?

The intent of this blog is not to rely on scare tactics, to prophesy doom if the roof isn’t maintained, but rather to bring recognition that maintenance is an essential investment, not a regrettable expense.   Many owners have learned the hard way, that a long-term warranty furnished with a new roof does not provide for either inspections or maintenance.  Even worse, the lack of maintenance (neglect or abuse) of the roof could void the warranty. 

The Solution?

Many roofing contractors offer both a roof maintenance program and a full-scale total roof management program.  Contractors bid not only on the roofing job but also the maintenance agreement.  After the contract warranty period (often two years), the maintenance agreement begins.  The contractor surveys the roof provides a written report and may perform a specified number of hours for debris removal, minor repair, etc.  If major work is necessary, it is typically charged at a time and material basis at a rate agreed upon beforehand.  In addition, maintenance customers usually receive preferential treatment, in case of natural disasters such as a hurricane, severe wind, rain or hailstorms. 

Not all property owners sign a maintenance agreement with the roof installer; some may opt for a roof consulting firm or a roofing management organization.  No matter what the type of arrangement a property manager or owner chooses, the important thing is to keep up with what’s on top.

Below is a list of items checked in regular inspections:

  • Core samples of each roof to determine existing construction
  • Photos of your roof and close-ups of all problem areas
  • Report of conditions of the field and flashing areas of your roof
  • Estimate of remaining service life
  • Exact budget figures for:
    • Emergency Leak Repair
    • Preventative maintenance items if needed and their effect on lengthening your roof’s serviceable life
    • Roof replacement, Recover and Coating options and costs – if necessary

An effective roof management program is a win-win situation.  The owner gets a trouble-free and cost-effective roof system.  The specifier architect gets a happy client and the knowledge that the roof system works as expected in the design.  The roofing contractor gets an enhanced reputation and repeat business.