6 Strategies to Prevent Roof Damage Caused by Trades

February 20, 2018

If you’ve got equipment on the roof that needs servicing, it’s likely your roof is at risk for damage from service technicians. They drop tools, create burns when welding, and puncture the roof while removing HVAC panels. Here are six strategies to prevent (or at least reduce the likelihood of) damage.

Step 1: Prevent unnecessary foot traffic.
Only allow authorized personnel on the roof. The more foot traffic your roof system sustains, the greater the damage. Crushed insulation and reduced service life due to repeated traffic come with a big replacement cost.

Step 2: Keep documentation.
Keep a log of who traffics the roof, and when, where, and why. People are more careful not to cause damage when they assume they’ll be held accountable. If destruction does occur, refer back to your records and invoice the responsible party for the repair.

Step 3: Educate.
Tell trades about the damage their tools and foot traffic can cause. Prepare instructions on roof protection and have them read it as their signing in to access the roof. Your roofing contractor can assist you with the creation of this document.

Step 4: Reinforce the roof.
If you’re reroofing, talk with your roofing contractor about options to beef up the durability of your roof system. Thicker single-ply membranes and SBS modified bitumen roofing are usually specified for their durability. Single-ply membrane is indicated by the mil (1 mil is equal to 0.001 inch). Some of the thickest membranes on the market are 90 mil. Expect dense cover board and insulation to be recommended as well.

If it’s not time for a reroofing project yet, discuss how vulnerable areas can be retrofitted or reinforced. A small section in areas that get repeated wear can be reroofed, like at access points where workers step off a ladder or through a door onto the roof.

Step 5: Dictate the path.
Limit areas impacted by foot traffic with walkway pad or elevated walkway. Walkway mats/pad reinforce the membrane and restrict rooftop activity to designated paths. Elevated steel walkways also provide guardrail for enhanced safety.

Step 6: Call in the pros.
It’s not uncommon for trades with little roofing knowledge to install equipment (e.g. satellite dish, new processing piping, etc.) on the roof. They often don’t possess the knowledge or compatible materials to properly flash new penetrations. Use your roofing contractor in these situations. Don’t let trades install new equipment without consulting your roofing contractor first for guidance on placement. Coordinate scheduling so your roofing contractor can come in and install flashing per manufacturer recommendations immediately afterwards.