In and around in Massachusetts, nearly 100 building collapses have been reported since early February. Countless commercial properties—including many used for retail, education, and corporate office space—are showing dangerously cracked ceilings, under the weight of nearly a dozen pounds per cubic foot. And if messy, wet weather persists, experts say that level of pressure could triple.
Are you prepared?
If your corporation owns space or operates within one of New England’s commercial facilities, you probably have roof concerns hanging over your head this month. Here are seven best practices you can start implementing this spring to ensure better roof maintenance going forward.
1. Develop Roof Profiles for All Roofs in Your Portfolio
If you don’t already have your roofs’ histories documented and supported, it’s time to start gathering information. Create a file for each roof you manage. Include data on roofing materials, roof systems, installation dates, original contractors and any repair contractors involved, plus incident and PM reports that describe any work that was done correctly or preventative.
Not only will roof profiles keep you organized, they can help you establish baseline trends and develop annual budgets.
2. Maintain Detailed Roof Plans
Again, for each roof you manage, you should have a graphical representation (or roof plan) that indicates where rooftop equipment sits, and provides points of reference for different roof sections. Roof plans are essential when commissioning repairs or directing maintenance teams.
3. Proactively Monitor Your Roof’s Condition
At a basic level, you should be conducting a visual assessment two or three times per year. Visual assessments should include inspection of flashings (for cracking, rusting, or leaking), drains, gutters, and the overall roof system. Look for any areas of discoloration and/or algae growth, too.
In additional to visual assessments, it’s advisable to perform “non-destructive” surveys that don’t involve a physical presence. Strategies using infrared scanning, nuclear tests, capacitance tests, and wireless sensor technologies can detect moisture, locate leaks, and assess membranes without introducing added weight. Done monthly, these surveys pay off. Owners and facility managers who routinely inspect can increase their roofs’ lifespans by an average of seven years.
4. Practice Roof-Safe Maintenance
Roughly 40 percent of all commercial roof problems occur because of human error, not weather. Workers embarking onto your roof for window washing or HVAC repair should be licensed, experienced contractors. And you should take pains to avoid unnecessary or excessive foot traffic, which is known to cause tears in roofing materials. When roof traffic is necessary, take photos to document the condition of specific areas before work crews arrived.
5. Clean Roof Debris Seasonally
In the winter, you should remove any significant accumulation of snow and ice as soon as possible. After major storms you should inspect gutters, downspouts, and roof edge fasteners. Following the spring and fall seasons, clean roofs for leaves and other debris. These materials tend to plug up drains and rain gutters, which will eventually restrict water flow.
6. Reseal Damaged Membranes and Seams
If monthly surveys show the need for repairs, schedule them as soon as possible. Just like with winter cleanup services, source this work through an experienced facilities management firm, to ensure you get qualified contractors. You or your FM partner should also review contractor and manufacturer warranties before scheduling any corrective or preventative maintenance.
7. Focus on Lifetime Value ahead of Project-Based Savings
Most important, don’t play defense when it comes to commercial roof maintenance. More than 3,000 roofs collapse in the U.S. each year. By taking a proactive approach, and investing in regular assessments/repairs, you will save your organization significantly more in the long run.
For more information or personalized roof maintenance advice, please don’t hesitate to contact our team.