Control Foot Traffic On The Roof

  June 17, 2016

Your car gets regular oil changes. When the paint on your house begins to chip, you apply a fresh coat. Your home and vehicle are major, long-term investments, and you know that taking care of them will help keep them looking and running their best.

The roofs on commercial buildings require a similar approach. Adherence to some tried-and-true best practices can extend the life of a roofing system and help keep everyone and everything underneath it safe and dry.

A good example is foot traffic control. Facility managers understand the damage that storms can inflict upon a roof. Many, however, are not as aware of an equally destructive force ­— personnel walking the roof during inspections or while installing or servicing HVAC units, antennas, and other rooftop equipment. Many facility managers significantly underestimate both the amount of foot traffic their roof gets and the resulting toll if proper precautions are not taken.

At minimum, work boots can leave trails of dirt and scuffs on a white membrane, reducing its reflectivity and, therefore, its “cool roof” benefits. More seriously, dropped tools, carelessly moved equipment, and even displaced stone ballast can puncture or tear the membrane, causing leaks.

Access to the roof should be restricted to necessary personnel. Smart locks on roof scuttles can help keep unauthorized personnel off the roof. Maintaining an activity log creates a valuable record of who has been on the roof, when, and for what purpose.

Walkways should be provided to and around rooftop equipment that requires regular service ­— and they should be used. Care should be taken with tools and equipment to avoid gouging or puncturing the membrane. And when it is necessary to stray from walkways, extra caution should be exercised; ice and frost may not be visible on a white membrane, and all membranes are slippery when wet. Facility managers should adhere to these guidelines and remind their teams and vendors to follow them, too.

This Quick Read comes from Kate Baumann, director of marketing and procurement for Mule-Hide Products Co., a manufacturer and marketer of premium-quality, high-performance roofing products and systems. Go here to test your knowledge of roof design, repair, and maintenance.


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