Replace Roof When Repair Equals Cost of Replacement
Workers performing roof assessments should take new photos each time to record the progress of deterioration or, after repairs or coring, to show the condition after the repair and to document the date completed. Another advantage of infrared scanning is that workers can store data and images or send them to other locations for management review and decision making.
If an assessment indicates any actions — for example, resealing loose flashing — the result should be a work order created to do the repair. The roof, as well as exterior components located on the roof, should have a chronological history record that tracks changes to its condition over time.
Managers should divide the roof into distinct areas with appropriate identification codes to designate the type of roofing and specific area shown on a layout. In this way, managers can tell the areas most frequently damaged and requiring the most attention. This system also helps technicians find the repair site when responding to a work order.
Frequent damage also offers a clue to which areas need special reinforcement to resist deterioration. Workers should check these roof and upper wall areas to uncover problems before they get too big and damage spaces below.
Roof assessments are essential components of roof management because if the cause of a leak is not detected quickly on the exterior, exterior damage can occur for a long time — ruined insulation, damaged or loose membrane from bubbling, and rusted or rotted deck and joists — before interior damage becomes visible.
The results of roof assessments help managers make smarter roof decisions by providing data on roof components' condition, in addition to existing data, including dates, labor and material description for repairs. The rule of thumb is that if cumulative roof repair costs equal estimated cost of roof replacement, it is time for replacement. Managers must weigh this rule against exceptional factors, such as extreme storm damage, extreme dry or wet weather conditions, or new technology that can lower maintenance costs and insurance rates.
Thomas A. Westerkamp is a maintenance and engineering management consultant and president of the work management division of Westerkamp Group LLC.