One of the best ways to ensure a long life for the roof of a commercial building, while also minimizing damage to the interior of the structure is to conduct both regular and event-based inspections. Here is a checklist that can ensure thorough surveys that define and address potential problems at their earliest stages.
- Check previous repairs – Some roofs have spots that are more prone to repairs than others, so be sure that your inspections include an assessment of these higher maintenance areas to make sure that previous repairs are holding up.
- Look for loose, broken, or missing materials – From the day they are installed, roofs start the aging process, meaning that materials may loosen or go missing without being subjected to extreme weather events. Additionally, loose materials in one area may be the precursor for the breakdown of the same materials other areas, which may call for a closer look at the total area of the roof.
- Check the attic for signs of leaks – If the structure has a lowered ceiling or an attic, look for any evidence of leaks including water stains on acoustic tiles and/or a scent of mildew. Pay particular attention to any structures that penetrate the roof’s deck such as vents and ducts as these areas tend to be more susceptible to leaks.
- Inspect the flashing on the roof – Look for visible signs of distress on flashing to make sure that seals are intact. Vents that fit loosely inside their flashing would also indicate the potential for leaks.
- Inspect gutters and downspouts for clogs – While a visual inspection of open gutters will likely suffice, enclosed drainage components such as downspouts may require the pouring of water into them to ascertain that they are clear.
- An event-based inspection should include all the steps listed above – While regular inspections focus on detecting the gradual breakdown of the roofing system, an event-based assessment should be purposed in part to look for damage that occurs suddenly to the same aspects of the roof.
- Look for pooled water – Accumulated water is an indication that drainage is being impeded, either by clogged gutters and downspouts or an ice dam if temperatures are low enough.
- Inspect for hail damage – Large hail can crack shingles and damage flashing, so take a look at the entire roof for damage.
The first objective of a roof inspection is to define potential problems as early as possible. If this step reveals damage to the roof, a plan for repairs should be developed and executed as quickly as possible to minimize the extent of necessary work as well as to protect the interior of the structure.
One of the first concerns of homeowners after a heavy snowfall is whether the accumulation is large enough to threaten the structural aspects of the roof. In terms of the first line of defense, municipal building codes are generally written to cover the heaviest snow accumulations in the local area to ensure that new roofs have the structural integrity to withstand weight-bearing demands. The vagaries of weather, however, can result in events that go well beyond anything that has occurred before, which may require further assessment of the snow that is sitting on the roof as well as the roof itself. These assessments include:
- Determining the weight of the snow – The first determination of the threat posed by a large snowfall isn’t necessarily about the depth of the accumulation, but the weight of it. For example, dry snow (aka powder) is much lighter than snow that contains high levels of moisture, meaning that the depth of an accumulation of dry snow can be over 6 times deeper than one with higher moisture content with the same load bearing weight. The easiest way to determine whether the snow on your roof is dry or wet is to examine a couple of full shovels of snow from the ground level. If you see clumps or chunky pieces on the head of your shovel, the snow contains a relatively high level of moisture. Granulated snow, on the other hand, will be much lighter and won’t stick together.
- Checking the swing of the doors on the level of the house directly beneath the roof – One of the first signs of stress on the structure will be the bowing of the framing, which will affect the way that doors swing and close. If you notice a tighter feel when you swing the doors or difficulty in closing them, you may be seeing the first signs of too much snow on the roof.
- Look for new cracks around doors and windows – Another sign of stress resulting from a heavy snow accumulation on the roof will be cracks in the walls around doors and windows. Cracks may occur before changes in the swing and closing of doors become evident, so pay particular attention to these signs of structural duress.
If your assessments are indicating that you have an accumulation of heavy, wet snow that is challenging your home’s structure, do not make the mistake of trying to remove it on your own, which can be extremely dangerous and may actually result in unnecessary damage to the roof and gutter system. Instead, call your local roofing professionals with details on your circumstances to facilitate a fast and safe removal of the snow on your roof.
A new roof is the first line of defense for the home, standing up to extreme weather, the heat of direct sunlight, pouring rain and more. With this in mind, many homeowners make the incorrect assumption that there is nothing they can do that will result in damage to such a robust structure. Unfortunately, this assumption results in 3 common mistakes on the roof.
- Walking around the roof – Homeowners get up on their roofs for a variety of reasons assuming that the materials can handle their weight. While tile, concrete, and clay shingles can last for decades in all kinds of conditions, the one weakness these relatively brittle materials share is that they are not designed to support the weight of people walking around on them. Cracked and broken tiles can start a process of deterioration that can result in leaks over time. Flat asphalt shingles do a better job of handling weight, but the friction resulting from shoes on their surfaces can wear off the granules that provide protection to the shingles.
- Shoveling the roof to remove snow – Homeowners may be tempted to get up on the roof to remove snow with a shovel, especially if they are worried about load bearing or the formation of an ice dam. This decision can result in several problems including damage to the shingles, skylights, and other extensions from the roof. Damage caused by using a snow shovel on the roof may result in the voiding of warranties and may not be covered by the homeowner’s insurance policy, meaning that all damages will have to be paid out of pocket by the homeowner.
- Installing a satellite dish – Roofs often provide an ideal location for the installation of a satellite dish, with an unobstructed line of sight to the southern sky for reception. A common mistake made by professional installers as well as homeowners is the bolting of the apparatus through the shingles as well as the underlying deck. While installing the dish in this manner may result in a leak with the first rainfall, in many instances it won’t lead to a roof leak immediately. In these situations the expansion and contraction of the deck and the roofing materials slowly degrade the materials around the bolts, which can allow water to start seeping through the deck. As expansion and contraction continue, the presence of higher amounts of water can speed the process of deterioration, resulting in a progressively bigger leak.
When it comes to working on your roof, calling in the professionals is often the best choice for safety as well as the protection of property. When it comes to rooftop satellite installations, even the pro’s can make a mistake, so be sure to assess alternate locations. If the dish has to go on the roof, let the installer know that screwing the base of the dish into the deck isn’t an acceptable option.