Roofing systems on institutional and commercial infrastructure are usually an afterthought for building occupants until the roof leaks, that is. Roof leaks are an annoyance for occupants at best, but they can also damage property and expensive repairs.
Fremont, CA: Roof systems are among the most challenging elements for building management and engineering managers to maintain. Managers should concentrate their maintenance efforts on three of the most common roofing trouble spots to effectively use department resources: flashing, roof penetration, and foot traffic. Through carrying out routine inspections, thorough maintenance, and continuous mitigation, the best way to combat these problems is.
Flashings are just a tiny portion of a roof's total area, but instead of the field membrane, a technician may also track issues and leaks back to a flash. Anywhere a membrane terminates is a chance for water infiltration and, therefore, a weak spot in the system, especially if installers did not correctly detail it.
Flashing materials should reach or exceed the roof's life expectancy because of their significance. Flashings often connect various moving components, so they should be able to accept thermal and load-induced movement, mainly if they are located above an expansion joint.
Ponding water on flickering seams raises the risk of failure, so technicians can take precautions where possible to stop them. Technicians should build crickets or water diverters around mechanical curbs to aid drainage to further minimize ponding at flashing seams. Usually, vertical flashes can stretch at least 8 inches above the roof. An easy and inexpensive solution to reduce ponding is installing a PVC condensate line to bring water from rooftop HVAC equipment to the nearest drain. Roof drains should also be kept clear and working by technicians.
Technicians should note open seams, punctures, decolorations, and sagging membranes on vertical curbs during routine inspections. When the membrane is unadhered from the rising vertical wall, parapet, or curb, membrane bridging usually occurs. The bridge strains the material, which can cause rips and tears to occur. Before the next roof repair, technicians should preventively patch the area.
Flashings can also be investigated periodically or after severe weather events. Other discovered problems, such as rotted wood nailers, corroded fasteners, and deteriorated insulation, should not be overlooked by technicians if roof parts are opened. If repairs are required, technicians must make sure that they are sufficiently detailed and that materials consistent with the roof type are used. Many studies indicate that implementing the manufacturer's prescribed inspection and repair schedule results in longer roof life and lower roof costs overall. It is particularly important to keep the insulation dry and in good shape.
Flashing issues are not confined to roof perimeters. They can also occur during penetration of the roof. Many such penetrations, such as around pipes, skylights, and mechanical machinery, are prominent. Technicians must also ensure that flashes around more minor penetrations, such as those around conduits, stair supports, and other less visible water intrusion locations, are noted and inspected. One major roofing manufacturer says that prefabricated flashing, such as pipe seals, sealant pockets, and corner flashings, are typical solutions for such issues and are ready to install.
For water infiltration, degraded or bent mechanical curb caps may leave openings. Deteriorated masonry, failed flashing through-wall, and sealants on a rising wall above a roof system provide other water penetration opportunities. Heavy rains could get over the thresholds of shallow doors and enter penthouse spaces.
In electrical junction boxes, technicians need to search for openings. Despite the roof flashes doing their work, even the smallest and seemingly insignificant openings allow an opportunity for water to find its way under the roofing system. Technicians need to ensure that they are adequately detailed and approved by the roofing manufacturer when new penetrations are mounted on a roof if the device is already under warranty.
Roof issues related to foot traffic are mostly related to maintenance and repair workers who need access to the rooftop equipment. They will use instruments and equipment that could unintentionally pierce, cut, scrape, or otherwise damage the roof membrane.
During routine work and after repair tasks that include outside contractors, in-house workers should report any harm to the membrane. In general, managers should limit access to the roof to approved staff and be mindful that the membrane manufacturer can have access restrictions during cold weather.
Installing pavers or walking pads over the roof surface is the safest way to minimize the effect of rooftop traffic. They should be the most direct and reasonable route to each piece of rooftop equipment to maximize the likelihood that approved visitors use pathways.
Over time, roofing systems fail and need maintenance when they close to the end of their performance life. But they will surpass their standards when properly managed.
An evaluation by a roofing contractor is useful in determining how long a roof replacement will be necessary, and repairs are recommended before that time if a roof is approaching the end of its performance life. Managers may also help assess the replacement's timing by tracking and recording the frequency of leaks and the cost of repairs.