Accurate Repair History Vital When Making Roofing Decisions

Part 2 of a 4 part article covering the options managers face for roofing projects

By Eric Hasselbusch  
OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Roofing Riddle: Repair, Replace or Recover?Pt. 2: This PagePt. 3: Factors to Consider in Roof Repair, Recover and Replace DecisionPt. 4: Important Factors for Managers to Consider in Roofing DilemmaPt. 5: Products: Roofing

A roof with a long repair history should be a red flag for a manager regarding the general health and potential service life of the roof, but without objective and accurate information on the roof’s condition, it can be difficult for a manager to make a good decision. Two recent examples demonstrate the value of accurate roof condition information when considering roof repair, recover or replacement decisions.

In the first example, a manufacturer budgeted $500,000 to begin a phased recover or replacement project of a 100,000-square-foot roof section that required replacement. Before beginning the project, the company hired a firm to complete an objective roof evaluation and moisture scan to verify the initial recommendation. The evaluation revealed that most of the roof field was sound and that the insulation was dry. The roof did not require a recover or replacement.

Most of the leaks, as well as the perception of a potential roof failure, arose from a small number of failed flashings and seams. Crews identified the roof deficiencies and made repairs. With proper maintenance and repairs, the company could defer recovery or replacement costs for at least five years.

In the second example a Midwest school was preparing to replace a roof for $500,000 based on significant leak history and a supplier’s recommendation. After completing an objective roof evaluation, followed by an infrared moisture scan to verify the presence of moisture throughout the system, the manager determined most of the roof system was dry and in good functional condition, with only minor deficiencies.

Most of the reported roof leaks were the result of adjacent conditions, such as leaking windows and walls. The school repaired the walls and windows for about $100,000 and reallocated the remaining $400,000 budgeted for replacement to other areas of the facility.

Fortunately, in these examples, managers recognized the need for objective information, and the roof leaks and damage did not result in premature roof failure or misspent funds. But in both cases, managers could have implemented a more proactive approach to managing their roof assets and as a result avoided spending time chasing leaks and spending money addressing interior damage.

Evaluating options

Before evaluating potential roofing options and making a decision on whether to repair, recover or replace, managers need to determine whether they have the information needed to properly evaluate these options. If not, they need to develop a plan to effectively evaluate the condition of the roof in question. One important first step is to gather historical information for each roof section related to these areas:

  • upper management input related to roof performance expectations, budget constraints, and future expansion or building plans
  • building history, including construction additions and major roofing projects records of repair history, specifications, and warranties
  • leak history, including the location, severity, frequency, and weather
  • risk to people and operations, including slips and falls, product damage, and interrupted operations
  • structural tolerance
  • site-access requirements
  • safety requirements.

After gathering this historical information, the next step is to visually evaluate the condition of the roof. Managers should ensure that trained, experienced, and objective technicians who have experience with the design, installation, and maintenance of the roof being evaluated conduct the evaluation.

The evaluation should not just identify deficiencies. Many technicians can identify deficiencies, but a competent technician can determine and understand the cause of the deficiency so the managers can develop a long-term solution. Technicians conducting the evaluation can be in-house or third-party resources, but they must be objective and have the required training and experience.

The roof evaluation should address these areas:

  • Interior, including leak locations, operations, and decking, with the understanding that a damaged or deteriorated roof deck is not always visible from below because it might have been painted or hidden.
  • Roof, including height, construction, access locations, ponding locations, field membrane, adjacent conditions, perimeter wall and penetration flashings, drains, slope, control and expansion joints, metal counter flashings, coping caps, and all other roof related sheet metal.
  • Core samples. This is a form of destructive testing that involves physically cutting a small sample from a roof to verify system components, condition, and the attachment method — including surfacing, membrane, insulation, vapor barrier or underlayment, and deck type.
  • Optional testing. This can include moisture testing, such as infrared, nuclear, and capacitance tests, which are non-destructive methods to identify moisture within a roof system. The most appropriate non-destructive test method to use depends on the roof system type and environmental conditions.

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  posted on 5/11/2015   Article Use Policy

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