Emergency Roofing Repairs

OTHER PARTS OF THIS ARTICLEPt. 1: Don't Ignore Roofing Maintenance When Budgets Are TightPt. 2: Roofing Maintenance and InspectorsPt. 3: This PagePt. 4: Roofing Maintenance Tips

During the life of a roof system, emergency repairs may be required during and after severe weather. Water may leak into a building at any time, with immediate repair required to prevent extensive damage.

Emergency repair procedures should be as simple as possible, so that they may be performed safely by building maintenance personnel or other non-roofing professionals. These repairs should be considered temporary; roofing manufacturers and contractors should be contacted as soon as weather permits so that the appropriate permanent repairs can be made. A note of caution: It generally is not advisable to attempt roof repairs until severe weather has ceased because of the danger of high winds and the possibility of lightning strikes. Caution should be exercised when inspecting the roof after severe weather or when there is suspected damage to the roof assembly; storms may have left the roof in an extremely hazardous condition.

There are several guidelines facility executives should keep in mind for emergency repairs. First is to protect the interior. Control the spread of water by collecting it in containers and using plastic sheeting to protect building contents. Also, remove excess water from the roof. Check roof drains and scuppers to see if they are functioning. A frequent cause of roof leakage and collapse is excessive ponding on the roof because of clogged drains or scuppers. Caution should be exercised when removing roof debris from roof drain locations. Draining water can cause significant suction that can pull tools, hands, arms and ballast quickly into the roof drain.

Once things are under control, locate the source of the roof leak — though this may be difficult. Facility executives may have no recourse other than to control the spread of water until a roofing professional arrives.

Remember: Emergency roof repairs are temporary and require permanent corrective action.

The most important step to a successful preventive roof maintenance program is to actually do repairs in a timely manner. Following a roof survey or inspection, the roof consultant, architect, engineer or roofing contractor should prepare a list of recommendations for each item of concern, the corrective action and the estimated cost for each action. It is imperative that the appropriate corrective action be recommended and the appropriate maintenance or repair method be implemented by a roofing contractor approved by the roof system manufacturer. Too often, inappropriate maintenance or repairs are performed. A contractor needs to be given the direction to perform the proper repairs, along with the appropriate funds to accomplish them.

Once the appropriate maintenance or repair has been completed, a work log indicating the date, repair, contractor performing the repair, and cost and location of the repair should be completed and included in the historical file.

Roof Restoration Options

If the roof really has gotten to the point where it has some major problems, facility executives may consider a restoration instead of a total replacement. This may be a good option for an older roof where the membrane is still in good condition but some works needs to be done. By way of example, the Hawthorn Elementary School in Vernon Hills, Ill., was constructed in 1986 and has a ballasted EPDM roof. After 20 years of service the school district was considering roof replacement at a cost of $550,000. After inspection, a consultant recommended a roof restoration solution that involved reflashing all roof curbs, base flashing, roof edge and drains. This restoration was completed successfully at a cost of $52,500. The restoration is expected to provide an additional 7 to 10 years of service life. While not all roofs are candidates for restoration, this option for extending service life, reducing expenditures and creating good will should be investigated prior to full roof replacement.

Facility executives should realize that “staying in the dry” is their responsibility. A smooth-functioning maintenance program will allow capital to be requested on an orderly basis, so that when each roof system reaches the end of its life-cycle and is no longer economical to maintain, it can be replaced or re-covered in the best possible weather and construction period. Therefore, a good maintenance program should be in operation from the time that a roof system is installed until the time it is replaced.

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  posted on 2/1/2009   Article Use Policy

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