For Single-Ply Roof, Regular Maintenance Prevents Problems

  March 1, 2017

Given all the factors involved in getting a good single-ply roof, there may be times when facility managers feel a bit like Alice wandering through Wonderland.

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the (Cheshire) Cat.

Facility managers considering single-ply roofing options know in a general sense where they want to go: Their aim is to get a good roof. The question is, are they following the right path? As the Cheshire Cat says, if you have no direction, you will eventually get somewhere, but it may not be where you wanted to end up. So it is in roofing.

A key to staying on the right path is regular maintenance. That means facility managers have a crucial role in the long-term performance of a single-ply roof. Here are some of the factors that require maintenance attention:

• Examine the roof periodically to be sure that seams are intact, that there are no loose terminations, and that there are no punctures in the field membrane or flashings. An inspection should be made a minimum of twice a year (spring and fall) and after every major storm so that small problems can be addressed before they become major issues.

• Make any necessary repairs as soon as possible. Do not allow repairmen to use inappropriate repair materials. Roofing cement is not appropriate for ANY type of single-ply membrane repairs. Do not mix membranes. TPO should be used to repair TPO, PVC with PVC, EPDM with EPDM, etc. Tape-type peel-and-stick repair membranes should be tested for adhesion and compatibility with the membrane or only used for temporary repairs. Some repair tapes will delaminate from the single-ply membrane very quickly or will damage the membrane.

• Enforce use of the walk pads by repair and maintenance personnel on the roof.

• Look for fasteners poking their heads up through the membrane. As mechanically fastened membranes age and the insulation compresses, the fastener head can puncture the membrane. Have this repaired as soon as possible.

Facility managers who have felt like they were going crazy dealing with persistent roofing problems can probably sympathize with Alice in Wonderland when the Cheshire Cat tells her:

“We're all mad here. I'm mad. You're mad.”

“How do you know I'm mad?' said Alice.

“You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn't have come here.”

By taking care with the design and installation of the new single-ply roof, and providing regularly scheduled maintenance once it has been installed, facility managers can avoid their own version of Alice’s fate: going down the rabbit hole to the madness of roofing Wonderland.

This quick read is from Karen L. Warseck, AIA, LEED AP, a registered architect and president of Building Diagnostics Associates. Click here for more from Warseck on keys to getting a good single ply roof. And click here for more on the roofing on


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