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Preventive Maintenance

Protect Your Warranty, Maintain Your Roof
By Bob Marshall, President

Damage to building interior and contents, suspended operations, irate tenants or occupants, and . . . voided manufacturer warranties can result from unattended roofs. These problems occur because the building owner does not inspect his roof(s) regularly.

For example, over time miscellaneous debris can block a rooftop drain. As a result, water builds up around the drain. Over time this ponded water can break down the water-tight integrity of the roofing system and seep into the underlying insulation. The insulation becomes soaked and its R value is greatly reduced. Moisture from the soaked insulation begins corroding the roof deck . . . and so on. This can happen to a perfectly sound, even new, roof if it is left unattended for long enough. A preventive maintenance program will stop minor roof problems before they become major, expensive ones. And, a preventive maintenance program will also put teeth into claims made on a manufacturer's roof warranty.

When was the last time you or your staff walked your roof(s)? If you are not practicing regular, simple rooftop maintenance, then any water damage caused by a leaking roof will probably not be covered under the warranty issued by the manufacturer of the roofing system. When it comes to low-sloped commercial roofing, a building owner's peace of mind should be the result of a reasonable preventive maintenance program and not the roof warranty currently in force. A roof repair/water damage claim made against a roof warranty unaccompanied by a documented record of the roofing system's preventive maintenance activities has far more likelihood of being disputed than a similar claim accompanied by PM documentation.

These inspections should include:

  • Clean drain areas
  • Check all flashing
  • Check for low spots and ponded water
  • Check gravel stop joints for cracking
  • Clean debris from roof, debris can breakedown the watertight integrity of the roofing system
  • Check for new penetrations or equipment on or through the roof
  • Check for cracks in parapet walls and copings
  • Check the position of counter-flashing
  • Reposition ballast to cover minor bare spots

Maintain Good PM Documentation
Keep a detailed log of each periodic inspection. Good preventive roof maintenance record keeping is a necessary prerequisite for making successful warranty claims. This is particularly important when there is more than one roof under management and maintenance.

Records should include:

  • Age of roof, age of building
  • Type of membrane, flashing and insulation
  • Previous repairs
  • New (since the installation of the roofing system) rooftop equipment and installations
  • Type of structural roof deck construction
  • A record of rooftop traffic
  • Photos of any roof membrane punctures
  • Membrane manufacturer's warranty and contact information

Outside technicians servicing rooftop equipment should be logged in and out and accompanied if possible or put on notice about their responsibility for "incidental roof membrane penetrations." Small repairs should be handled in accordance with the manufacturer's warranty, perhaps by the contractor who installed the roof, or by another contractor certified by that manufacturer.

In addition to avoiding problems and protecting an investment, a preventive roof maintenance program can provide the necessary documentation for the satisfactory enforcement warranty claims.

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131 1/2 Lynnfield St., P.O. Box 3279, Peabody, MA 01960   Phone: (978) 548-6000   Fax: (978) 5148-4993  E-mail:
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