There is no such thing as a maintenance-free roof. Your roof is exposed to the elements of nature 24 hours each day, every day of the year.
That’s a lot of stress.
Roof inspections help your roof to last longer
Taking part in regular roof inspec tions can make your roof last even longer than its warranted life span. Conversely, a roof that is not properly inspected and maintained could fail halfway through its design life – and its owner could end up paying twice as much as he intended.
Spring and Fall are the best times to do your roof inspections. Spring, because you can make sure the Winter weather didn’t damage your roof. Fall inspections can reveal problems before the Winter snow and rain sets in. It’s also necessary to inspect your roof under special conditions like bad weather or after workmen have been up on your roof for any reason.
To insure that your inspection is thorough and nothing is overlooked, both the interior and exterior of your building should be inspected.
Inspecting the inside of your building can reveal possible leaks that may be difficult to see up on the roof itself. Since your inspection may not take place on a rainy day, for example, water leaks may not be easy to find. Look for stained ceiling tiles, water marks on the wall, water marks on the roof deck, peeling paint on walls or ceilings, rusting deck and warped or deteriorated deck material.
NOTE: What may appear to be a leak may not necessarily be due to the roof. Water and air conditioning pipes running directly below the roof deck are possible sources of water staining and leaks. Duct work is also important to check when staining or leaks occur because blowing rain often enters through these areas. When leaks occur around the interior perimeter of the building, be sure to check walls and windows as a possible source.
Before you start to check the actual roof for problems, make sure all of the drains, gutters, scuppers and downspouts are clear of debris. Double check all strainers and make sure they are in place and working properly.
Your roof should be clean. Be sure to remove any garbage or debris that may have accumulated since your last inspection.
During your inspection there are two areas that must be given very special attention. One is the surface membrane and the other is the flashings.
The surface membrane does the most to keep your roof from leaking and that makes it important to give it special attention during your inspection.
- BLISTERS: Raised areas of the roof that collapse when you step on them. Blisters tell you that parts of the roof have pulled away from each other or from the deck.
- CRACKS/SPLITS: The membrane appears torn. This could be caused by building movement or internal stresses.
- RIDGES: Narrow, elongated wrinkles that affect the entire membrane and can extend across the roof.
- PUNCTURES: A hole in the membrane possibly caused by moving machinery, falling tree branches, dropped objects, etc.
- FISHMOUTHS: A curl at the edge of a membrane ply. This is due to poor adhesion of the surface membrane.
- EROSION: Any wearing away of the membrane surface that can be visibly detected. This is due to excess traffic, wind scouring and water wash.
NOTE: All coated roofs require periodic re-coating. Re-coating is the responsibility of owner. The roof coating or surfacing material shall be maintained in satisfactory condition to maintain the warranty coverage.
Most people think a roof ends at the surface membrane. But another important part is the flashings. They deserve special attention because they’re the biggest cause of roof leaks.
Some of the more common problems are:
- SPLITS/CRACKS: Flashings appear to be torn and pulling away from the wall or structural component. Generally caused by building movement or internal membrane stresses.
- OPEN LAPS: A broken lap edge resulting from poor adhesion.
- PUNCTURES: Holes in the flashing possibly caused by a workman’s boot or by mechanical abuse.
NOTE: Flashings are often attached to walls and structural components by mechanically fastening them into place. The metal used to secure these flashings should be checked to make sure they are properly attached and sealed.
Flashings are located at all penetrations in your roof as well as the perimeter. This includes air conditioners, vent fans and other machinery that is installed on top of your roof.
Flashings come in many shapes and sizes. The flashings used depend on the construction details of your building. There are many possibilities, but we’ve tried to make inspection of the flashings as simple as possible.
- RIDGING: Elongated wrinkles, frequently on a diagonal, all pointing to the ends of the wall. This is caused by differential movement between the wall and roof systems.
- SLIDING: The flashing material has slipped out of place. Usually due to differential building movement of the flashing to the wall or structural component.
Other parts of your roof to inspect
Besides the surface membrane and flashings, take a look at these items:
- COPING: Coping is placed on top of a wall to protect it and shed water. Check stone coping to see if it is cracked, broken or loose. Metal coping can be improperly fastened and/or sealed, and can become loose and in need of repair.
- MORTAR JOINTS: These joints can deteriorate and become loose or fall out. Water is then able to seep in, causing a leak.
- PITCH POCKET: These are placed around a column or other roof penetration to seal it. They are not recommended, but sometimes there is no choice. Be sure that the sealing material is not shrunken or cracked around the inside of the pitch pocket.
Guidelines for protecting the Thermo Materials® roof
- Do not allow unauthorized personnel on the roof. A sign should be placed at the access to the roof informing everyone that this is a roof under warranty and a regular maintenance program. All trades and service personnel must have prior approval before entering the roof area.
- Walkways shall be provided if regular traffic will be required for maintenance of roof top equipment or other activities. (Soft sole shoes are also recommended.)
- When rolling carts on walk ways and working around equipment, lay plywood sheets on the roof surface first. (Carts shall have rubber tires.)
- Do not drain evaporator coolers onto the roof surface.
- Water from roof top units, such as air conditioners and higher roof areas should be discharging into appropriate drains and/or onto splash blocks.