1. How often do you think about the roof over your head? Maintaining the roof on your building could potentially save you from having to find money in your budget to pay for a major catastrophe and will keep your fellow workers or family more safe. Routine inspections and clearing your roof of debris will go a long way in preventing serious injury and costly repairs. Roofs are often said to be like tires. We only think of them when a problem arises, and we only replace them when we absolutely must. But, when we do think of tires and maintain them regularly, we can extend their useful lives. Similarly, we need to ensure that the roof receives the proper maintenance to increase its useful life. But being on your roof or having a contractor do it, BOTH MUST CONSIDER FULL SAFETY AND TRAINING BEFORE GOING UP ON THE ROOF INCLUDING SOUNDING OUT THE ROOF FOR WEAK SPOTS. Extending roof life starts with regular inspections. The National Roofing Contractors Association recommends inspecting all roofs twice a year: once after the coldest weather, once after the hottest weather. (And it's always a good idea to inspect the roof following any major weather event.) But why should roofs be inspected, and what do we hope to discover by doing so? All roofs should be inspected whether they are low slope roofs or steep roofs. A low slope roof is one with a slope of less than 3:12 whereas a roof with a slope greater than 3:12 is considered to be a steep roof. All low slope roofs should have at least 2 percent slope, which is approximately 14-inch per foot.
2. Inspect roofs at least twice per year. 1. Weathering and Aging The benchmark life for multi-ply bituminous low-slope roofs is 20 to 30 years and approximately 15 to 25 years for most single-ply roofs. All roofs undergo normal weathering and aging, and the effects of those factors are usually visible. As roofs weather and age normally, openings may occur, leading to water infiltration. Regular inspections call attention to weathered areas and enable an owner to schedule maintenance on these deficiencies to prevent further damage. 2. Routine Maintenance Damage If your roof is not protected properly, damage can occur from tradespeople performing maintenance on air conditioners and other systems. This sometimes occurs because of trades failing to close mechanical access panels on roofs or leaving refrigerant containers. In addition, maintenance trades often fail to clean up their debris. Items left on roofs can become flying objects in high winds. A regular inspection program incorporates roof cleaning into the ongoing maintenance cycle. 3. Storm Damage High winds, hail, and other weather events can create damage to roofs that may trigger repairs or insurance claims. Roofs should be inspected immediately following weather events to prevent further damage due to water infiltration. Damage from winds or hail can be slight and require little more than minor maintenance, or the problems can be major and require roof replacement. Insurance loss adjusters have reported that a significant amount of storm damage is actually caused by material, components, or debris blown from roofs in high winds. Tree limbs and branches can fall on roofs creating significant damage. Roof blow-offs start at the perimeter, and when roofs are not properly designed or installed to provide proper perimeter securement, severe damage can occur. Storm damage may require emergency repairs costing even more money.
3. 4. Leak Assessment Leaks after heavy rain are the primary trigger for most inspections. But a leak is only symptomatic of a problem that may have been building for some time. In some cases, if you're looking for a silver lining, a leak is actually good news. That's because without evidence of a roof leak, a festering problem of undetected moisture infiltration may continue to create unseen deterioration, such as rotting wood, mold, wet insulation, or corrosion. It takes an experienced professional to conduct a thorough leak investigation and diagnosis, because the entry point for moisture may be far away from the visual evidence or detection point. Leaks can be evidence of serious roof problems or minor local issues. Many roofs in excellent condition occasionally have leaks due to minor flashing problems. As a general rule, low slope roofs rarely leak in the open field of the roof. Leaks tend to occur around discontinuities, such as changes in elevation, penetrations, expansion joints, and flashings. On the other hand, severely deteriorated roofs may not show visible evidence of leakage, particularly over concrete decks where water may migrate a great distance before reaching an entry point through the concrete. When such a condition occurs, damage due to moisture saturation of the roof insulation may be so significant that the roof must be replaced. 5. Proper Drainage Few characteristics are as important to roof performance as roof slope and drainage. Water standing on a roof increases the likelihood of leaks and moisture infiltration many-fold. Ensuring good drainage is a very important reason for regular roof inspections. Leaves, trash, debris, and thrown objects often clog or obstruct roof drains, thus creating standing water conditions. Regular cleaning of roofs can help remove such obstructions and permit water to drain efficiently, thereby reducing the likelihood of leaks. Moreover, water is heavy weighing approximately 5 pounds per square foot per inch deep. Poor drainage also accelerates deterioration of roofing
4. materials, leading to a shorter life of the entire roof assembly. If a leak occurs from standing water, insulation can become saturated over a wide area, requiring complete roof replacement. 6. Vegetation Damage Vegetation can grow on roofs when gutters and other low areas are not cleaned regularly. Birds land and nest on roofs. They also deposit seeds, which promote the growth of vegetation. Gutters are a particular source of vegetation growth because of the accumulation of dirt, seeds, and moisture. In addition, tree branches scraping on roofs during wind can cause significant damage. Gutters should be cleaned regularly, and trees near roofs should be trimmed to prevent contact with roof surfaces. A further problem with vegetation growth is that roots can penetrate through the roof membrane and create leakage. Root damage to roofs from vegetation can be significant and pervasive. Regular inspection can help draw an owner's attention to a budding problem before further damage is done. Many times damage can be caused by loose items placed or stored on rooftops. Roofs should always be inspected prior to and after inclement weather warnings to decrease the impact of flying projectiles, blocked drains (especially during the fall season if there are a lot of trees around a building), or to protect valuable machinery prior to heavy winds or hail. A quick walk through should be done after a bad storm to ensure there is no known damage. Draining pipes on roof tops when not cleared of debris can cause a back up of water and could result in roof damage or collapse from the weight of the water. A roof inspection is one of those preventative maintenance jobs thats easy to overlook. Dont. Add a twice-a-year reminder on your calendar to go out on a warm day and fix any problems you find. If youre squeamish about heights, dont worry. You can do a thorough inspection from the ground using a pair of binoculars. Or, you can get up close and personal with your roof using a ladder. However, theres
5. no need to get up on your roof just yet. The less you walk around up there, the better for your roofing and the safer for you. Work your way around your house, noting any potential problems. Heres what to look for: Cracked caulk or rust spots on flashing. Shingles that are buckling, curling, or blistering. Missing or broken shingles. Cracked and worn rubber boots around vent pipes. Missing or damaged chimney cap. (OK, thats technically not part of your roof, but since youre looking anyway.) Masses of moss and lichen, which could signal the roof is decaying underneath. Black algae stains are just cosmetic. If you find piles of colored grit from asphalt roof tiles in the gutters, thats a bad sign those sand-like granules cover the surface of roof shingles and shield them from the suns damaging ultraviolet rays. Check the age of your roofing and see if its nearing the end of its life cycle. Easy Fixes for Roofing Problems Any loose, damaged, or missing shingles should be replaced immediately. Check for popped nails that need to be hammered back in place. If youre comfortable working on a roof, then its not too difficult to replace shingles and caulk flashing yourself. Cost: $24-30 for a bundle of shingles, $6-10 for roofing caulk. Allow a half-day to make a few shingle repairs. Metal and vinyl flashing around chimneys, skylights, and attic vents that has separated needs to be resealed with caulk. However, flashing and vent boots that are beginning to rust or deteriorate should be replaced. Cost of Professional Repairs Contact pro roofing companies and seek at least two bids for repair work. You can use a handyman for minor fixes and possibly shave costs, but the person should be bonded, have proof of liability, and have workmans compensation insurance.
6. Some costs for common repairs include: A few broken or missing shingles: $100-$150. Large repairs (10-by-10-foot section of roofing): $100-$350 asphalt; $200- $1,000 wood. Replacing flashing or boots around chimneys, skylights, and vents: $300-$500. Repairing flashing in valleys: $15-$25 per running foot. Clearing Your Roof of Moss Moss eradication begins in the fall. Apply a moss killer intended for roofs (granules for lawn-use contain iron which will stain a roof). In the spring, use a broom to remove remaining dead moss. Spread moss killer along the ridge of the roof and on any remaining green patches. Cost: $20 for moss killer to treat 3,000 sq. ft. of roof. Allow about three hours to sweep the roof, clear the gutters, and apply the granules. Be Alert to Early Signs of a Roof Leak A yearly roof checkup is great, but problems can occur at any time. Early signs of trouble include: Dark areas on ceilings. Peeling paint on the underside of roof overhangs. Damp spots alongside fireplaces. Here are a few suggestions for your agencys roof top inspections: Inspect each roof at least once per year. Increase frequency consideration for roofs that create a greater-than-typical exposure (age, leaf exposure, roof mounted equipment, etc.). Identify the best time of year to conduct your inspection(s) (hurricane preparedness, fall leaves, history of past inspection conditions, etc.). Identify the format of the inspection & documentation. Make sure that the individuals that perform the inspection are properly trained.
7. And just like in health and safety at work think of using a check list so that you dont miss anything when you are up there.