The final key component to a long-term successful roof system is maintenance and repair during the roof's lifetime. Unfortunately, too many organizations fail to pay proper attention to comprehensive inspection and repair of the roof system, whether the work is done by in-house personnel or contractors. Even simple, inexpensive maintenance can go a long way.
To ensure success using a contractor, managers can initiate a long-term maintenance program with qualified roofing professionals and maintain communications with the system's manufacturer and contractor. Ensuring the roofing system is well-maintained helps ensure continuous operation of the building. To a great extent, it also stops potential leaks before they start.
Maintenance includes anticipating and planning for the high levels of service traffic and other impacts associated with rooftop PV installations. To protect against the effects of increased maintenance traffic, managers can install protective walkways, increase membrane thickness, add coverboards, and establish operational controls, such as restricting roof access and maintaining a log of such access.
Establishing a formal, periodic inspection program can help verify the condition of the membrane, flashings, and other critical roof-system details. In project specifications, managers might want to outline a formal maintenance program, specified for a minimum number of years, to ensure the proper maintenance of the PV and roof systems. This strategy has proven successful because it ensures consistency and accountability for both installation and maintenance. Managers also need to remember that nothing lasts forever. As a result, they must anticipate and plan for the eventual replacement of both the rooftop PV system and the roofing system.
Establishing a proactive, organized approach to roof maintenance can ensure that the proper initial design of a rooftop PV system, the use of quality materials, and the system's skillful installation will result in the long-term, successful performance of the PV system.
James R. Kirby, AIA, is vice president of
sustainability for the Center for
Environmental Innovation in Roofing (CEIR), www.roofingcenter.org.
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