When it rains, it pours!!

Does your building roof often leak and just never seems to get fixed properly?  If so, it is time to apply some common sense measures to identify and prevent interior damage due to a poorly maintained roofing system.

Here’s a typical building owners comments, “we called another roofer to go up last time the roof leaked during a rainstorm, and we hope it’s fixed right this time!”  So we thought, until we noticed more water-stained ceiling tiles.  We flipped the tiles so we could see above the ceiling and now have noticed signs of mildew and mold.  The roofer had located the puncture on the flat roof’s membrane, applied some sealant with a patch, and soon to be forgotten about.  Several things were wrong with that repair: First – the only repair was performed during the rainstorm, so any type of lasting bond between the patch and leaking roof was compromised; Second – a patch is not a permanent fix and the roofer should have scheduled a return visit to properly adhere a similar piece of membrane and either glued, or heat welded it to the roof membrane. While roofers intentions may be to resolve your problem, they are not always the schedulers of their manpower, so the owner must always follow-up to ensure final repairs were accomplished.

Inspect the entire roof at least twice annually for open seams, proper water drainage, punctures, abrasions, patches, and check the access hatch operation to ensure safe and secure latching. Secured rubber mats at the roof access point to hatches can help prevent a slip and fall while mounting or dismounting the ladder.  These mats will provide a location to clean snow, ice, and water off your shoes or boots.

Whenever there are contractors providing services on the roof such as HVAC technicians, painters, roofers, satellite installers, and others, a visible inspection should be performed to ensure there are no screws, nails, or sharp metal objects that will puncture the membrane, or roofing system.

An effective means to assess the condition of a building’s roof is to complete a Thermo-graphic Survey using infrared imaging technology. These surveys are performed on roofs to quantify the extent of roof moisture (water) that is inside the roof system.  This procedure helps to locate the problem area, through non-destructive testing, and it also minimizes roof repair costs by identifying those areas with water damage.

Keep the roof clean, and unplug roof drains as often as possible.  Quite frequently, plugged roof drains not only promote ponding and older flashings to leak, but they also promote growth of algae, insects, and plant life.  The best way to extend roof life is to have a qualified inspector view it routinely, and report their findings in a written report.

Missing drain covers allow the roof drain to become plugged with dirt, leaves, debris, or even worse stone ballast from the roofing system, as shown in the picture below.  Drain covers should always be reinstalled during quarterly roof inspections to promote good roof drainage.

Roof drain

Roofing stone ballast plugs drain line without cover

RTU1 (800x600)

The metal roof of the buildings rooftop units that were once flat and water-tight, begin to deteriorate and leak after many years of service.  In order to extend the life of the rooftop air handling enclosure for continued dry operation, the owner might consider installing a membrane adhered to the top with positive slope to ensure water drainage.  It might be possible to calk all open joints on the roof of these units, but a long term solution to dry operation is a taper sloped membrane so rain water does not pond and leak inside the building.

Many building owners ask themselves the question:  If we purchase a roof warranty, do we also need to perform annual inspections?  Yes, absolutely!  Most roofing manufacturers and installers that offer warranties will require that a qualified roofing inspector perform and document semi-annual PM inspections, and maintain the roof in accordance with the terms of the warranty.  Once again, drains must be cleaned, gutters cleared, and all debris and sharp objects removed from the roof surface.  If you really want to extend the useful life of your building assets, TEAM Facilities has a network of pre-qualified contractors and stands ready to address all of your building maintenance and operational needs. Remember, routine maintenance is as important as cutting your lawn or changing your oil!

Contact TEAM Facilities, and we’ll make sure that when it rains, it pours somewhere else!