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Premature roof failure is almost always caused by neglecting preventive maintenance. A roof inspection by an experienced roofing contractor is recommended at least twice a year, preferably in the spring and fall, and after severe weather, such as hail, heavy rains and high winds, to check for any roof damage.
A great way to begin any roof preventive maintenance program is to create a file of all records related to that roof, which may include warranties, repairs and maintenance, past inspections, and original drawings and specifications for the building.
Keep in mind that the ultimate goal of the preventive maintenance program is to get the maximum service life out of the roof, for the least possible cost. So keeping accurate records of each roof's history is vital to its overall maintenance.
There are several, basic preventive measures that property managers and building owners can perform throughout the year to extend the life of a roof and deter water infiltration, including:
• Removing debris such as leaves, branches, dirt and trash from gutters, scuppers, downspouts, and drains to ensure proper water drainage.
• Keeping metal roof components such as flashings, expansion joints and pitch pockets in good working condition by replacing deteriorated sealants, painting rust, and making necessary repairs.
• Maintaining rooftop equipment (e.g., satellite dishes, solar panels, air conditioners, skylights) and checking the roof after equipment service calls and repairs to make sure the roof wasn't accidentally damaged in the process.
• Repairing roof coatings and membranes damaged by spilled oils, grease, coolants, and other liquids.
• Minimizing roof traffic by authorized personnel and installing walkway pads in high-traffic areas.
Preventive maintenance can also help minimize damage and costs to repair a leaking roof. The sooner a leak is detected and properly repaired, the better for the tenants’ well-being and the owner’s wallet.
Another key to preventing roof leaks is evaluating the building’s components that rise above the roof level. Broken and missing masonry, along with deteriorated mortar, sealant joints, and concrete around stair towers, parapet walls, elevator shafts and coping all provide easy avenues for water to infiltrate and cause damage.
Choosing a Contractor
Thoroughly review any contractor hired to work on your roof. Mistakes made by unreliable contractors can also contribute to a leaking roof.
Some contractors are more capable of fixing your problems than others, and hiring the wrong one may lead to further issues rather than a solution. You may even incur more expensive repair costs in the future because the contractor did not adequately fix the problem or the repair did not last as long as you had expected.
Research a potential contractor's expertise and qualifications by asking them questions and checking their company’s website. Find out how long a contractor that has been in business. Ask them for the names and numbers of their past clients. A contractor should provide you with case studies, testimonials, and references that confirm their quality and value. If you want the truth about a contractor, call their references and talk to people who have used them in the past.
Don’t treat all possible solutions as if they were the same. When you receive proposals from multiple contractors, they are not identical solutions. There are factors like price, tenant effects, safety, materials, and schedule to consider. Make sure you understand these and how they impact you and your company. One proposal may be more expensive than another, but the quality of the work might help you avoid future repair costs. Work with a contractor to understand the differences in options so you can make the best decision for you and your company.
A few diligent steps with regard to your roof will help to minimize the potential of a roof leaking, and the headaches that go along with repairing one.
Keegan Tune is Kansas City branch manager, Western Specialty Contractors.
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