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Today's tip is about how to prepare a roof for a hurricane or other high-wind storm, and how to inspect it afterward for damage. As we now know, after August's devastating Hurricane Irene, even northern cities like Philadelphia and New York City should be prepared for high-wind events.
The most important task when a high-wind event is impending is to secure any loose rooftop equipment. Walk the roof before the storm and take down any unsecured equipment. Pick up any loose items, like screws or loose pieces of metal flashing. Make sure that HVAC equipment is secured as tightly as possible. HVAC equipment that comes loose and cartwheels across a roof during a storm is a major source of damage, both to the roof, and to the facility interior when the roof leaks. Additionally, any other loose rooftop equipment can become a missile that attacks either your building or adjacent buildings.
Secondly, make sure to secure the services of a contractor you know will be available after the storm if worse comes to worse. This may mean finding a contractor outside the area as a backup in case contractors in the storm-affected area are too busy to provide immediate repairs.
It's also a good idea to educate building occupants about preparing the facility in case a leak occurs. This may mean covering furniture with plastic, moving items off the floor and removing expensive electronic equipment altogether. Remember, the value of a roof isn't the value of the roof itself. The value of a roof is that it protects the value of everything inside the building.
After a storm, get back up on the roof as soon as it's safe. Do a thorough walk-through to see where there may be obvious damage that may lead to further problems. Especially check around all penetrations and around the roof's edges - where peel-back may result in leaks. If repairs are required, get in touch with the contractor as soon as possible. And always keep upper management informed about progress.