Your Commercial/Industrial Roof: 15 Ways to Be Proactive

September 27, 2022

Weather and constant budget constraints can make you feel like your roof is at the mercy of fate. That’s not entirely true, though. You can do some basic things to influence the performance of your commercial/industrial roof. We’ve outlined 15 actions—some simple and tactical, and others more strategic in nature—for proactively managing your roofing asset.

1. Find a roofing contractor before you need one.

Vetting roofing contractors before you need them means you have a qualified contractor before an emergency strikes. Don’t wait until urgency supersedes qualifications.

2. Alert and educate rooftop workers to prevent damage.

Post a reminder near roof access points alerting workers that the roof is under warranty and how to avoid damaging it. Another idea is to prepare instructions on roof protection and have workers read them as they’re signing in to access the roof. This document can provide dos and don’ts for working on the roof and rules and requirements.

3. Prevent ice dams.

If ice dams are a frequent problem, hire an electrician to install heat tape before winter. It kicks on when the air is below a certain temperature, inhibiting the formation of ice. It can be run around roof drains, eaves, gutters, and downspouts.

4. Don’t neglect; inspect!

Have your roofing contractor inspect your roof system, skylights, roof hatches, and permanent fall protection equipment at least once a year. Routine inspections detect problems early and limit further deterioration.

5. Install walkway pad.

Install walkway protection from roof access points (e.g. roof hatches, ladders, etc.) to any rooftop equipment that personnel will be performing maintenance on. It should extend around the equipment, so service workers can remove and set access panel doors on the walkway pad instead of the roof membrane (a common cause for punctures).

ways to be proactive with your roof

6. Add a slip sheet under pipe stands.

Make sure non-penetrating pipe stands have a support (or slip) sheet under each leg. A slip sheet or added layer of membrane provides a layer of protection. Without this extra layer, moving or vibrating pipes can cause wear to the roofing membrane.

ways to be proactive for your commercial roof

7. Keep up on grounds maintenance.

Trimming nearby trees will reduce the number of leaves and pine needles in drains and scuppers. Clogged drains can cause a whole host of problems, such as ponding, growth of vegetation, and even roof collapse.

8. Put that roof drawing to work.

Place the CAD roof drawing where it’s highly visible and accessible to a variety of facilities professionals. Ask them to mark it up with areas that need checked, repaired, or serviced. This helps your roofing contractor know where to investigate problems when they arrive onsite.

9. Limit and track who’s on the roof. 

Besides restricting who has roof access, keep track of it. Have people sign a log with the date and times they’re on the roof. People are more careful not to cause damage when they know they’ll be held accountable.

10. Put a coat on it.

Ultraviolet and heat exposure cause chemical degradation of the roof membrane. Consider a roof coating to squeeze more life out of an aging roof. A roof coating can help you increase the time between reroofing projects by providing an extra layer of protection. The ideal time to apply a roof coating is before the existing roof system starts to show deterioration.

the top of a commercial flat roof

11. Get a facility condition report.

Have your roofing contractor evaluate all roof areas and assign asset health values and/or provide a facility condition report. This is a roadmap to help you determine the timing of maintenance and reroof activities, a must-do for budgeting and the beginnings of a roof asset management program.

12. Beef up the roof.

Reinforce the roof at access points where workers step off a ladder or through a door onto the roof. Dense coverboard, thicker membranes, and walkway pad can increase the durability of areas that get repeated wear.

13. Protect your pitch pans.

Shield pitch pan sealant from the elements with a weatherproof sheet metal rain hood. As soon as pitch pocket/pan sealant shrinks and dries out, it cracks and pulls away from the sides, resulting in leaks.

14. Clean the roof.

Imagine years without cleaning; your car would be covered with dust and dirt. That same accumulation occurs on your roof and if left unattended long enough, seeds deposited by the wind, squirrels, or birds can make an unwanted rooftop garden flourish. Removing dirt and debris on the roof once or twice a year will prevent the growth of unwanted vegetation. Hire a professional to clean the roof; they know how to work safely near the roof’s edge.

15. Declutter the roof.

Remove obsolete equipment and debris from the roof. During high winds this can be forced from its location and pushed across the roof surface causing damage.

This advice will keep your roof operating more smoothly for longer. And because we love sharing our knowledge and are big fans of safety, we’ve got a bonus tip. If you live in a climate that gets snow, mark rooftop hazards (e.g. low curbs, conduits, gas lines, vents, and skylights) with cones or neon orange snow flags. These visual cues can help prevent rooftop workers from accidentally tripping on, stepping through, or falling from the roof.

Need help maintaining your roof? Call D. C. Taylor Co. today at 319.731.4118.

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