Costs of roof maintenance tend to follow a predictable pattern. In the early years of a roof’s life, the costs are relatively low. By the sixth or seventh year, costs may begin to rise, gradually at first and then with greater frequency in the later years. Knowing when – and how – to intervene becomes a crucial decision for a facility manager.
The key is to extend the roof’s useful life while avoiding the high cost, disruption and material waste involved in a complete tear-off and replacement. Being proactive with repairs and maintenance, and choosing to restore your roof – at the right time – can save you significant budget dollars compared to replacing it, giving you the budget flexibility to address other needs or re-invest in the business.
Too many times we see instances where replacements are done prematurely when there are still years of life left; or the opposite extreme where a run-to-failure philosophy of being merely reactive to repair needs leads to a roof wearing out sooner than it should.
Extend the life of your roof using these guidelines:
Remove the subjectivity of visual inspections. Today’s savvy building owners and facility managers are requiring roofers to utilize newer technology – like scientific testing of the membrane and infrared scans – that accurately predict the useful life of a roof. They understand visual inspection is only telling part of the picture, and can be highly subjective, often dependent on the knowledge and experience of the particular technician on the job that day.
Intervene at the right time. Roofing repair expenses are not linear. While a new roof will likely experience minimal maintenance expense in its first five years, it will start seeing more need for intervention once it gets to 40-50 percent of its useful life. This is where timely intervention can extend the roof’s service life most cost-effectively.
Try on a new coat. Coated roofs can extend a roof’s life dramatically when properly maintained and cleaned, depending on climate conditions. They can often be re-coated as well, meaning costs to replace can be further deferred. Coatings can also improve energy efficiency inside the building. A white elastomeric coating, for instance, can help reflect UV rays and lower the temperature on a roof in warm climates. Reflectivity, however, can be compromised when dirt and debris accumulates, so regular inspections are recommended.
Don’t rely on warranties. If you want a 10-year roof, buy a 10-year roof; not a 10-year warranty. The warranty on the roof might offer some peace of mind, but you have to be careful. From a building maintenance standpoint it’s better to depend on the actual roof or roof repair; not the warranty. Also, be sure to use a roofing contractor you trust. And one who will be timely on repairs.
Knowing the best time to intervene on a roof is a science that often requires a trained, experienced technician backed by scientific testing and analysis. You don’t have to go it alone. These guidelines provide some knowledge that you can apply, but consulting with a trusted roofing specialist can help you make the best decisions for your facility.