For commercial building owners, the roof is no doubt one of their biggest investments. If your building has a flat roof, you need to maintain the roof to prevent possible damage. It is generally advised to schedule its maintenance biannually. Remember, the roof isn’t just there to protect your building but your employees as well. Keeping this in mind, here are seven valuable tips to prolong the life of your commercial flat roof and shield your investment.
Flat Roof Maintenance Tips for Your Commercial Building
Invest in Regular Inspections
Heavy foot traffic and deterioration due to weather are two big factors that contribute to roof problems. You should have your roofing checked at least twice a year to see if seasonal changes have resulted in damages. This will help you notice small issues before they become big ones. Having your flat roof inspected by certified inspectors ensures that it stays in top condition.
Check for Blisters, Cracks and Ridges
Blisters can occur when moisture or air is trapped within the layers of the roof. They separate the different layers which results in damages to the roof membrane (the space where the pieces are joined). However, blister patches may only be required if:
- The blisters in laps are reducing lap coverage
- The blisters break open
- There is a significant loss of gravel/surfacing
- The blisters start showing signs of fatigue cracks
- There is evidence of deterioration of the roof membrane
Large ridges and cracks on your building’s roof can appear for many reasons, including surface stress, the freeze-thaw cycle or poor workmanship. These large cracks can run along the roof joints and seams, and generally need to be repaired by professionals. However, smaller cracks can be maintained with commercially available patch kits, although it is advisable to hire a professional for best results.
Look out for Splitting
If you notice that the cracks on your roof are coming apart, you can be sure your roof is splitting. This happens when regular maintenance is not completed and is never a good sign. There are different reasons why your roof could be splitting such as ponding or freeze-thaw cycles. Cracks typically appear by the joints of the membrane. If they look and feel spongy, contact your roofer right away.
Rain and snow can result in standing pools of water, also referred to as ponding. Pools that have dried out will leave behind a dirt ring or water mark, indicating that your roof faces this issue regularly. If you see these marks, consider installing a proper drainage system to keep it from damaging the roof further. When left unchecked, ponding can lead to leaks and, in severe cases, structural damage and complete roof failure. If you notice ponding along the edges, consider installing hoppers which collect excess water. However, if you notice it happening at the centre of the roof, install an automatic pump which can get rid of the water before it becomes a bigger issue. The best solution is to build up low areas so water doesn’t accumulate in the first place.
Prepare for Oncoming Seasons
It is vital to prepare your roof for the changing seasons, especially right before winter, to prevent irreparable damage. Fall is the best time to winterize your roof if you want to prevent ice dams. This happens when snow accumulates on your building’s roof and gradually turns into ice, preventing proper water drainage. This can be detrimental to your businesses’ health as it can destroy product among other things.
Reduce Foot Traffic
A major factor that results in damage to flat roofs is foot traffic. This can lead to punctures that result in leaks. If you have equipment such as generators and exhaust fans on your roof, your maintenance crew will obviously have to check them occasionally to ensure their functionality. You can take extra precautions by installing walkway pads. These come in different textures and colours to prevent accidents. Also, consider limiting access to your roof by selecting just a few personnel to take care of the job.
Trim the Trees
Though trees offer shade during the day and can help decrease utility costs by keeping your building cool, they can do harm too. Even if their branches don’t necessarily touch your roof, trees can get in the way. Fallen leaves can pile up and clog the drainage system. Additionally, racoons and squirrels can access your building via branches that touch or are close to your building. The easiest way to prevent drainage problems and keep animals from wreaking havoc is to keep nearby trees trimmed. It doesn’t matter whether you have a single floor or multiple ones. Hire a roofing company that will take care of the job for you. It is best to maintain a distance of at least six feet between your building and surrounding trees. Meanwhile, have a maintenance plan in place to have the roof checked for fallen leaves, branches and other debris.
When it comes to maintaining your commercial flat roof, it is best to be proactive. Keeping it in top shape will save you the trouble of replacing it sooner than need be. Implementing these tips will help you make the most of your roof. And by investing in a quality contractor and the right products, you can extend the life of both your business and its roof.