By Facility Executive Staff
From the August 2021 Issue
Autumn and spring are two important times of year for commercial roof maintenance and inspections. The cooler months are used to inspect roofs and make sure these are ready for the winter months ahead. After the winter weather subsides, then it’s time to look again at the roofs to see what damages may have occurred.
At Central Roofing Company in Minneapolis, MN there are 15 teams of roofers specifically trained for inspecting commercial roofs. Why so many? Because the company has contracts to regularly inspect more than 600 roofs. Overseeing those teams is Corey Sias, vice president of service and a 10-year employee at Central Roofing. Facility Executive spoke with Sias about his experience and insights on the value of preventative roof maintenance programs.
Facility Executive (FE): Let’s start big. What’s the largest client your company services for ongoing roof maintenance?
Sias: That would be the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Campus. There are 280 buildings on the East Bank, West Bank, and St. Paul campuses. Since 2014, we’ve inspected every foot of each rooftop yearly We evaluate the condition of every roof and report back to university officials. This type of dedicated preventative maintenance inspection (PMI) gives the university the opportunity to have small issues fixed as these come up, and that’s along with being able to plan out long-term for full roof replacements.
FE: Let’s stick with the University of Minnesota for right now. What exactly is involved in the PMI there?
Sias: Our teams remove debris, replace shingles, clear all roof drains, scuppers, and any other drainage discharge areas needing assistance. They’re looking at the condition of sealants and inspecting flashing and every component of the roofing system. It’s a lengthy job, since some of the buildings have 15 to 20 sections each. The crew makes notes of roofing failures, potential long-term problems, and issues that need immediate attention.
FE: How long do inspections like this take?
Sias: With a PMI this large, it can take up to three months for the entire campus to be inspected. We try to schedule the same people to the same areas each year since they’ve become familiar with those specific roofs.
FE: What about structures and facilities smaller than this college campus?
Sias: Every roof, no matter how large or small, receives the same level of detailed inspection during a PMI. We also have skilled teams dedicated to companies like Spire Credit Union, Maple Grove Hospital, Wells Fargo, First Industrial Realty, and Gopher Resource.
FE: I understand that Gopher Resource is a great example of how companies can use PMIs to their benefit. Can you explain?
Sias: Yes, that’s correct. Gopher Resource operates an impressive 36-acre location [in Eagan, MN] where they recycle 50,000 automotive batteries daily, plus lead-bearing materials and plastics. For the past six years Central Roofing has done annual inspections and repairs on five separate buildings that occupy 291,000 square feet of space.
We make sure the commercial roofing overhead performs well, so that nothing interferes with their operations. There are ongoing sectional roof replacements, along with a five-year plan for replacing additional areas. Our primary goal is to minimize emergency roof work. We want to assure that all major maintenance and roof replacements are predicted and budgeted. That’s the way a good relationship between a facility owner and a roofer should work.
FE: It sounds like a property owner doesn’t have a “grace period” when a new structure is built. Isn’t there supposed to be instant “peace of mind” for a new facility? Why are these companies investing in roofing maintenance?
Sias: Actually, a good time to start a PMI is when a roof is about two years old. Mother Nature is not kind. Hail and wind storms alone can wreak havoc on even the most reliable roofing systems.
It’s simply smart business to assure that a commercial roofing system is maintained for optimal performance levels. That’s why it’s critical to have a maintenance strategy in place.
FE: What type of investment do roofing inspections require? Is it costly?
Sias: Actually, these inspections save money in the long run. A PMI has to be considered an investment. Catching leaks or problematic issues early means fixing it before it becomes a major issue.
Here’s an example of how investing in a PMI program can pay off. In Minneapolis there’s a non-profit called Urban Ventures. The facility has a campus of classrooms, offices, a gym, and other areas. In year five of the PMI, our team saw unusual cracking and splitting in the roof’s membrane. We worked with the roofing product manufacturer and determined severe hail had damaged the entire roof system. After months of work, the lead person on our team convinced the insurance company to replace the roof with a new, higher-performing roof system costing more than $679,000. However, all Urban Ventures had to pay was its $1,500 insurance deductible!
This really shows that using professional roofers on an ongoing basis can be a smart investment for a property.
FE: What can facility managers or property owners do themselves to help protect their roofs throughout the year and enhance their lifespan?
Sias: Great question. Quite simply, people should make it a regular practice to keep their roofs and drains clean and clear of debris. Assign an inside maintenance team to walk the roof monthly. You’d be amazed how fast drains can clog up after a storm pushes debris around a roof. That backed up drain can cause ponding issues that can start building up water. That’s the type of situation that wears down the roofing structure very quickly. Just remember, the roof can be a dangerous place. So, make sure all precautions are taken before having anyone go on the roof; or better yet, ask the professionals to handle this task.
FE: It makes sense to have roofs inspected during spring and autumn. What should facility managers have their roofers looking at right now to help them get ready for any cold weather ahead in their location?
Sias: Again, it’s the basics. Drainage, debris, flashings, penetrations, conditions of sealants, and looking at the entire roofing system. When facility managers stay on top of these issues, and include professional roofing inspections regularly, they’re extending the life of their roofs.
To learn more about Central Roofing Company of Minneapolis, MN, visit www.CentralRoofing.com.
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