8 Ways to Prevent Commercial Roof Problems

July 12, 2021

You can’t stop a hurricane, prevent record snowfall, or block hail. If Mother Nature has plans for your roof, there’s nothing you can do about it. There are ways to prevent other roof problems, though. We’ve got 8 tips.

No. 1 Inspect the roof.

Before age, wear, and tear become a problem, there are usually signs. A roof inspection will catch them, allowing you to take action in extending the life of the roof by limiting deterioration. A professional roof inspection by D. C. Taylor Co. assesses the condition of more than 20 components of the roof and should be scheduled before and after the seasons with the most extreme weather (e.g. in spring and fall). Remember, you’ll want to ensure the roof is in good condition before hurricane, tornado, or monsoon season hits. You can’t change the weather, but you can be ready for it.

No. 2 Perform routine maintenance.

Simply cleaning the roof of dirt, vegetation, and debris eliminates conditions that could otherwise be ideal for the growth of unwanted vegetation or clogged drains, scuppers, gutters, and downspouts. An accumulation of dirt and plant growth can also provide harborage for pests.

Don’t defer repairs. Instead, schedule regular roof maintenance. Remember, the life of caulking is only six to eight years. Hiring a roofing contractor to perform general preventive maintenance ensures that the condition of caulking and sealants for counterflashings and terminations are checked regularly and replaced or sealed if necessary. This will help prevent leaks.

two d. c. taylor co employees having a discussion on a rooftop

No. 3 Modifications? Call your roofing contractor.

Adding a new penetration to the roof? Leased space to a carrier for a rooftop antenna tower? Having a new HVAC unit installed? The people who typically perform these installations are not roofers. To save yourself from a headache later, put your roofing contractor in contact with the equipment installer. They can discuss penetrations, appropriate flashing details, and the location of equipment/material to minimize its impact on the roof (e.g. slope, drainage, excessive weight, etc.).

Plan ahead and make sure the work is performed at a time when both contractors are available. This will ensure that the roofing work is performed in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications, so they don’t risk voiding the warranty, cause unnecessary damage, or compromise the waterproofing.

No. 4 Use a licensed roofing contractor.

Unless it’s an emergency that can’t wait, do not DIY it. You may be tempted to make a repair yourself, but most likely the materials you use won’t be compatible with the roof system. A professional contractor knows how to work safely on the roof and make repairs according to the manufacturer’s specifications. If the roof system is still under warranty, it’s especially important to hire a contractor that’s licensed and certified by the roof system manufacturer.

No. 5 Accessorize.

A few accessories and additions to your roof can prevent unnecessary damage. We’re talking about walkway pad, drain baskets, and grease guards.

When workers use the roof as a work platform, they often unintentionally damage the membrane and the insulation underneath. If you know you’ll have foot traffic on the roof, durable materials like SBS modified bitumen roofing, thicker single-ply membrane, and dense cover board and insulation are recommended. For added insurance, though, install walkway mats/pad. It reinforces the membrane and restricts rooftop activity to designated paths. Install it near rooftop equipment that will be serviced and at access points, where workers step off a ladder or through a door.

Drain baskets are another helpful accessory. These strainers twist onto drains to prevent large vegetation and debris from getting into internal drain pipes. At a price of less than $100 each, installing drain baskets costs a fraction of what a plumber will charge to snake the drain if it’s backed up.

black and white illustration of a drain basket

And if you have an industrial facility or food processing plant, grease guards can be installed to filter and collect grease and oils from rooftop exhaust systems. Filters should be changed or cleaned regularly as part of your preventive maintenance program.

No. 6 Hold workers accountable.

Damage from workers on the roof includes dropped tools, discarded rags, old parts, etc. Limit who you give access to the roof and hold them accountable. Use a roof access log to keep track of who was on the roof doing what when and where. Once they’ve signed in, have them review instructions for working on the roof. This document can provide dos and don’ts for working on the roof, as well as rules and requirements. This will supplement signage about how to avoid causing roof damage (and reporting it, if necessary) at roof access points.

No. 7 Trim trees.

Pruning trees around the building perimeter provides numerous benefits. It reduces the amount of leaves, pine needles, pollen, and sticks that find their way onto the roof and into drains. It can also ensure that more sunlight hits the roof to dry up last night’s rain and prevent animals from easy access to the roof via overhanging branches.

No. 8 Make sure water drains off the roof.

Make sure roof drainage isn’t obstructed. Perform visual inspections after storms to check that environmental debris isn’t blocking drains. If drains are clogged, clear the drain as soon as possible. The general rule of thumb is that water shouldn’t sit on a roof longer than 48 to 72 hours. Ponding water is a structural load concern that could lead to roof collapse and will deteriorate TPO membrane faster. If your roof is plagued with a ponding water problem, contact your roofing contractor for solutions (e.g. tapered insulation, roof crickets, lowering or enlarging gutters, adding a sump pan to drains, etc.).

This short list of dos and don’ts can spare you many preventable roof problems. Don’t wait until an emergency to give your roof the attention it needs; by then it may be too late to remedy the situation cost effectively.


Contact D. C. Taylor Co. today at 319.731.4118 to schedule a roofing service.

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