The Importance of Commercial Roof Maintenance

The Importance of Commercial Roof Maintenance

Car and truck owners are accustomed to periodic vehicle maintenance. The auto industry has done a tre­mendous job reinforcing the importance of oil and filter changes, tire rotations and inspection of hoses and belts. Vehicle owners know that if not properly main­tained, there is an increased likelihood that their ride could overheat, blow a tire or simply fail to start. Our car, truck or SUV is likely a five-figure investment. We likely rely on it every single day. What does this have to do with a commercial roof? We in the roofing industry need to drive (pun intended) home the importance of roof maintenance at every opportunity. First, a sound roof is a matter of personal safety. Nothing is more valuable or important than that.

After personal safety, there are any number of considerations. How would a roof leak affect the building, the building contents, tenants, operations, rental value, property value, etc.? Commercial buildings are dramatically more valuable than a vehicle and proper roof maintenance is critical to reducing major issues and expenses.

In essence, roof maintenance, like auto maintenance, can help us reduce the likelihood of failure and has been consistently proven to extend the life of the roof. Truck owners take great pride when the odometer passes a major milestone like 200,000 miles and boast that "The Beast" (or whatever you've named your truck) is still go­ing strong, still going the distance. Roofers have a very similar sense of pride in their work and in knowing that a roof they have installed is standing the test of time. Many successful roofing companies incorporate roof maintenance programs into their business model.

Roof maintenance programs provide contractors with recurring revenue and an unsurpassed opportunity to maintain regular, strategic communications with the customer base, all while providing a relatively low-cost yet incredibly important service to building owners.

What are Some Key Points to Share with the Building Owner?

  • Roof maintenance can decrease liability. A poorly maintained roof can be hazardous; both physically and fiscally.
  • Roof maintenance can save money. Proper roof maintenance often uncovers small issues for repair before they become really big, costly issues.
  • Proper roof maintenance has been proven to extend roof life. Who wants to invest significant funds to replace a roof when it could have very easily been well maintained instead?
  • Roof maintenance can save even more money in the form of immediate tax advantages. When in doubt, the building owner's accountant or tax pre­parer can provide more information.
  • Roof maintenance is minimally invasive. Often building occupants won't even know that roofing contractors are on the roof and the most common maintenance items won't interfere with building operations at all.
  • Roof maintenance can be more environmentally friendly. Green maintenance products are readily available and by extending the service life of the roof, it's not headed to a landfill anytime soon.

What are Some Key Points for a Good Maintenance Program?

  • All roof systems require periodic maintenance and should be inspected a minimum of twice a year, once in the spring and again in the fall.
  • If roof conditions are subject to unusual conditions, inspections should take place on a more frequent basis (6-12 times per year).
  • Roofs should always be inspected after severe weather or in the case that structural damage occurs to the building.
  • A preventative maintenance inspection consists of a thorough visual inspection, photographs and documentation of the roof system including penetrations, metal components and accessories, flashings, adjacent walls, mechanical equipment or any other special conditions that can impact the roof system's integrity.
  • Make sure to have the tools necessary to discover key items during the inspection. For example, infrared thermal tomography can be a very useful diagnostic tool that can reveal issues that may otherwise go unnoticed.
  • Pay special attention to penetrations, pitch pans, metal edging and flashings because leaks are most likely to occur in these locations.
  • Clean up after the inspection. Core tests should be properly repaired and soda cans or other litter shouldn't be left on the roof or in the grass near the ladder.

The intent of preventative maintenance is to enable building owners to proactively identify and implement solutions to roof system issues before they become widespread. In many cases, when a problem is identi­fied early and properly repaired, the extent and cost of repairs will be significantly less than if problems were left un-repaired. And as the roof progresses towards the end of its service life, who is the most knowledge­able contractor when it comes to this building owner's roof? Who is in the best position to provide options for restoration or next steps? Who has become a trusted advisor? You, the contractor who has been there all along.

John Walker has earned respect by doing, but he is well credentialed too. At Joliet Junior College, John earned certifi­cations in roof repair, boiler maintenance and basic building electrical systems. He has been a casino maintenance supervi­sor and owned and operated a residential home maintenance and remodeling company. John served as an independent sales rep for a national coatings company, then as a site su­pervisor for roofing contractors overseeing the installation of more than one million square feet of cool roof coatings. John has been a member of the APOC Technical Team for 10 years. Meet John at FRSA's 97th Annual Convention and the Florida Roofing & Sheet Metal Expo in Orlando July 18-19 at APOC booth 813. He can also be reached at 813-892-9285 or via email at

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