Penetrations in a commercial roof surface cause building owners a lot of problems. Ponding water damages the roof as well as roof-mounted equipment. It also leads to roof leaks and water damage. Blisters and water stains on walls and ceilings are signs of a roof leak. Proactive maintenance stops these roofing issues before they have a chance to grow. There are many benefits to regular maintenance, but how do you know when to inspect commercial roofs?
When Should I Have My Roof Inspected?
Fall and winter are the hardest seasons on roofing due to heavy rains, snow, freezing temperatures and leaves. The National Roofing Contractors Association recommends getting roof inspections at the end of winter and again at the end of summer. That way, you can immediately address problems caused by severe weather and make sure your roof is ready for the harsh seasons ahead.
The NRCA recommends roof inspections after any major hail, wind, and ice storms. These storms often have high winds that can cause structural damage. The sooner damage is identified, the sooner it can be fixed. Early identification and repair ensure your roof remains in good condition. Most warranties make the same recommendation (or even require them).
Roofing inspections are needed any time there’s a major change in the ownership or insurance of the roof. An inspection also lets the owner know how they should handle maintenance. Any leak can lead to water damage throughout the rest of the building and equipment, as well as disrupt building use during repairs. Most insurance policies only cover the Actual Cash Value (ACV) of the roof. This prorated cost is always far less than it will cost to replace the roof. If the roof is in poor shape, the insurer may reject claims for related damage. It may make sense to pay extra for replacement cost insurance, which covers the full replacement bill and a downtime insurance policy. However, regular inspections delay roof replacement.
What’s the Difference Between a Commercial Roof Inspection and a Roof Survey?
While both services are often called inspections, their purposes and what they look at are different.
If you’re selling, buying or insuring a building, you need a roof inspection. If you’re maintaining the building, you need a roof survey.
A roof inspection evaluates the general condition of the roof and its function. This is conducted by a building inspector or a specialist in roofing appraisals. The inspection report is required for insuring the building and is important for real estate purchases. Typically, a roof inspection is part of a larger full building inspection.
Roof Inspections Examine:
- Fire safety
- The presence of hazardous materials, including lead paint and asbestos
- Identifying wood-destroying organisms, including mold and termites
- Building envelope performance, including indoor air quality and radon venting
- The overall condition of the roof, including expected lifespan
There are two types of roof inspections. A roof certification evaluates the roof’s condition for initial insurance or property loans. Damage inspections determine insurance coverage after the roof is harmed.
While a roof inspection focuses on the safety and integrity of the roof, a roof survey focuses on maintenance. It’s used to evaluate the roof before repairs, restoration or replacement. A roofing professional looks over the roof and the surrounding structure and identifies problems that need to be addressed. This information is used to create an estimate. Roof surveys are also used to establish an asset management contract. The inspection provides a baseline for creating a roof care plan.
Roof Surveys Examine:
- The condition of the roof components, including the deck, membrane and insulation. This covers both the current physical condition and signs of aging. Over time, roofing materials become brittle, making them more susceptible to damage. This information is used to estimate the expected lifespan of the roof.
- The condition of the drainage system, including the downspouts, drains and gutters. The inspector also looks for signs of standing water and plant growth that indicate drainage problems.
- The condition of the flashing, coping and metal edges that support the roof. If any of these parts fail, it hurts the performance of the building envelope.
- Signs of roof leaks, including holes and signs of interior moisture. This is usually conducted by taking temperature readings of the roof in the evening. Moisture-soaked components stay warm longer than the rest of the roof, so they’re easy to see with an infrared camera. Skylights are also inspected for cracks and failing seals.
- Structural integrity, especially around roof-mounted equipment
What Makes a Commercial Roof Inspection Different From a Residential Inspection?
A commercial roof does more than a residential roof. It doesn’t just protect the building, it also has to be strong enough to support the building’s HVAC units. Commercial buildings also need added venting for radon and any exhaust-producing processes inside the building. Like everything else in a commercial building, the roof structure also needs to meet stricter regulations set by OSHA and local building codes.
Most commercial buildings have either a low slope or flat roof. While a steeply sloped residential roof allows precipitation to slide off, a commercial roof depends on its drainage system to remove precipitation and runoff from the HVAC system. Surface dips in the roof and clogged or damaged drains can quickly lead to water ingress. In the winter, the roof also has to be strong enough to support the added weight of snow and ice.
The construction of commercial roofing is also different from most residential roofing. While you can find metal roofs on both types of buildings, you won’t find shingles on a flat commercial roof. Instead, it will have a single layer membrane, modified bitumen or built-up roof.
Each type of roofing system has its own unique problems that the roofer needs to identify. These commercial roofing inspectors need different training and certification from home roofing inspectors to catch these problems. When you need a commercial roof inspection, call a trusted roofing company.
Do You Need to Catch Up on Roof Maintenance?
Tema Roofing Services is your complete source for roofing maintenance, including both commercial roof inspections and surveys. We also provide roof repairs, restorations and asset management contracts. Contact us to get a free quote. From there, we can work together to find the best, most cost-effective solution to repair, maintain or replace your building’s roof.