The Top Two Reasons to Proactively Maintain a Commercial Roof

July 28, 2020

You change the furnace filter in your home heating unit. You change the oil in your car. You don’t need us to introduce the concept of proactive maintenance to you. But maybe some reasons to perform preventive roof maintenance could help you sell the expense to budget-making and budget-approving decision-makers in your organization. We’ve got you covered.

Proactive roof maintenance costs less.

Instead of looking at the bill for preventive roof maintenance and wondering if it was necessary to spend the money at all, compare the cost to reactive roof expenses; your roofing contractor can supply past invoices to help demonstrate the dramatic difference in price. “It’s literally pennies per the square foot for proactive maintenance. If a customer calls us out for a reactive emergency leak, it could be a couple thousand dollars for one square foot patch. There is no comparison,” says J. J. Longerbeam, Vice President Service, D. C. Taylor Co., Cedar Rapids, IA. You don’t have to take our word for it, though. Roofing Contractor magazine published findings in 2009 from 15 years of data gathered by Firestone Building Products and ProLogis and declared the following: “With a proactive maintenance schedule in place, the average life-cycle cost is 14 cents per square foot. The average reactive maintenance life-cycle costs are 25 cents per square foot.”

Additionally, the manufacturer’s warranty requires that you take reasonable care of the roof system over its life (i.e. regular inspections, cleaning, and repairs). Neglect could render the warranty null, making repairs that would have otherwise been covered your financial responsibility.

Proactive maintenance also helps you retain as-built roof system performance to keep operating costs in check. Preventing leaks means you reap the thermal benefits of insulation by keeping it dry, which results in lower utility bills and reduced energy consumption. When talking costs, don’t forget to also factor in slip-and-fall accidents, lost productivity, indoor air quality testing, product recalls, etc. that result from leaks as well.

Lack of roof maintenance can lead to a much larger future capital investment too. When minor defects are left unattended long enough, they can become so large that a capital investment or facility shut-down is necessary. “If you let it go too long, you could be looking at complete deck replacement, all new insulation, and a major roof replacement project,” says Longerbeam. Plus, a recover may be possible if the roof system has been maintained; it is much more economical to recover a dry roof than tear off an old wet one.

Proactive maintenance increases roof life.

Routine inspections and regular maintenance prevent premature roof failure. Insufficient or infrequent maintenance can reduce the life of your roof by as much as half. According to roofing manufacturer GAF, more than 80 percent of commercial roofs are replaced prematurely, due in part to a failure to follow a regular maintenance schedule.

The same 2009 article in Roofing Contractor magazine that compared life-cycle costs, estimated that proactive maintenance brings the average life of a roof up to 21 years, compared to the 13-year life of a roof under a reactive maintenance program. Even if you think that’s an exaggerated estimate of how abbreviated roof life is without proper care, the prospect of gaining additional years is real. The Roof Industry Alliance for Progress’ 2003 study, estimated the average life expectancy of a low-slope roof at 17 years. Think of the savings reaped when the reroofing cycle happens every 21 years vs. every 13-17.

For help creating a roof asset management program or executing general preventive maintenance, contact D. C. Taylor Co. today at 319.363.2073!

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