Services & Maintenance: Lessons In Roof Maintenance
By Angie Basyouni
Published in the November 2006 issue of Today’s Facility Manager
With today’s busy schedules, it is easy to forget some of the most important aspects of facility management. The roof is one of the building’s most valuable assets. Not only does it protect the building, but it also safeguards all of the vulnerable occupants and sensitive materials within the structure.
Roof maintenance is often abandoned or never planned in the first place. Since the roof is not something people notice every day, it can sometimes be neglected—until a leak occurs. And if a perforation in the roof is the cause of the leak, the repairs may end up being costly for the organization and inconvenient for building occupants.
In order to protect both interior and exterior assets, it is imperative for facility managers to set up a maintenance program that will keep the roof clean and at maximum performance. Maintenance programs can be a crucial factor in extending the life of the roof.
The Roof’s Condition
Many managers are responsible for multiple buildings; they cannot always visit every location. Not knowing what condition the roof is in can lead to problems in the future. But a good maintenance program will provide facility professionals with a clear picture of the condition of their roofs.
With a maintenance program in place, the facility manager can have a detailed report of the roof on at least a yearly basis. In many cases, the maintenance program will allow for up to four roof reports per year. The location and surrounding climate of the building should dictate how many times per year the roof needs inspection.
The first thing the maintenance report should provide is a detailed description of the roof. This report should not only include specifics on the roof and rooftop equipment locations, but it will also have a computer aided drawing (CAD) of the rooftop and photos that highlight any areas of concern.
Additionally, this update should include repairs that need immediate attention to keep the building watertight and recommendations for future work to extend the life of the roof. While it is being inspected, the roof should also be cleared of any debris, and the gutters should be swept to keep them working properly.
Having the roof inspected at least once a year gives the facility professional peace of mind that the assets protected by the roof will remain safeguarded. Upon receipt of the report, the manager will have a better idea of the work that needs to be completed.
The recommendations for future work can facilitate the creation of a regular roof maintenance program. Depending on the condition of the roof and the amount of work that is necessary, the manager will be able to make an informed decision on replacement or repair—and can determine the urgency level of these considerations.
Choosing A Roof Maintenance Program
Implementing a roof maintenance plan also has benefits beyond keeping the roof in working order. If the roof is under warranty, there is often a requirement for maintenance stated within the documentation.
Failure to service the roof could result in this coverage being voided. Implementing a roof maintenance program will ensure the roof remains covered under the manufacturer’s guarantee.
Many commercial roofing companies now offer maintenance programs in one form or another. These measures are easy to implement, and the time it actually takes to perform the inspection is minimal.
When selecting the appropriate maintenance program for a roof, facility managers should consider the following:
- Location: If the building is located in a part of the country that experiences harsh winters, it is advisable to have the roof inspected at a minimum of twice each year (before winter and during spring). This will ensure the roof is ready to sustain the winter months and will check afterward for any damage that may have occurred during the winter. Each location will have different criteria based on weather. Conferencing with the roofing contractor will allow the manager to find out what is advised for each location.
- Condition and age of the roof: It is imperative to know the age and condition of the roof. If it is known to be older or in bad shape, it may be advisable to have the roof inspected bi-annually to prevent any major damage. If the roof is new, it may not need to be examined more than once per year.
- Sensitivity of interior assets: Depending on what is housed within in the building, more frequent inspections may be desirable. Buildings that contain computer and medical equipment or pharmaceutical products, for example, may require more frequent inspections than structures with less critical contents.
Facility professionals should confer with their roofing contractor to discuss what type of plan is needed for the roofs they maintain. Once a strategy is in place, there is a small time commitment involved for the facility manager. The contractor should contact the facility manager to schedule maintenance visits and follow up with a report.
Creating a roof maintenance plan can be facilitated by conferring with a trusted vendor. This process should be painless and simple—and, in the end, provide an important benefit to the person responsible for the roof.
Basyouni is executive director of Dallas,TX-based National Roofing Partners (NRP). NRP is an organization of local roofing companies united to provide better services and prices to the national and regional facility manager. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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