who access the roof can inadvertently
damage it while they’re up there, particularly if they aren’t well-trained on
preserving the roof. There are two main
types of human-related damage, notes
Heshmat O. Laaly, roofing consultant
and author of Science and Technology of Traditional and Modern Roofing
Systems. Dynamic damage happens
when a worker actively harms part
of the roof, for example, by dropping
a tool that punctures the surface or
spilling a chemical that eats away at the
roof’s protective top layers. Static damage, by comparison,
is caused by excessive pressure that causes deterioration
below. “In both cases, reinforcement plays an important
role,” Laaly notes.
In either case, it can be hard to identify the source of the
damage if said contractor neglects to mention it. Owen
Davis, technical specialist for Professional Roof Consultants,
recommends maintaining a strict roof access management
policy requiring everyone to sign in before accessing the roof.
“You need to know who goes up there, when they go up,
what they’re doing, and where they are,” explains Davis.
“That’s critical because if someone does drop or spill
something and you find it later during a periodic inspection, you can go back to your roof access control log and
say ‘We found damage in this timeline, and we know these
HVAC guys were working on this particular unit at this
time.’ That also helps cover costs for significant damage –
Storms and seasonal factors: Freeze-thaw cycles that
cause materials to expand and contract can badly damage
roofs, Laaly says. Rainstorms and other sources of water intrusion can impact insulation value in the short term; in the
long term, it can contribute to the development of organic
growth that can consume wood and lead to roof failure.
Wear and tear: It’s also vital to know how normal
aging affects your roof system. Periodically examining
your roof while the weather is cooperating will help you
spot dried-out seams and other age-related deterioration
before moisture intrusion becomes a problem, Davis says.
2) Stay Vigilant with Inspections
At bare minimum, you should inspect your roof for
damage once or twice a year and repair as necessary, Laaly
says. “Unfortunately, many owners think ‘out of sight, out
of mind,’” he explains. “They don’t inspect the roof, so
they miss issues that can lead to premature failure.”
Davis recommends quarterly inspections with general
cleaning added to the spring and fall ones. The fall clean-
ing is especially important because falling leaves can clog
troughs and drains and create ponding water.
“Once a quarter gives you an idea of what condition
your roof is in and lets you spot any potential areas you
need to address before the next season,” Davis explains.
Predominant failure locations vary by roof type, but
typically include any junction where multiple materials
meet, such as corners or pipe penetrations. For the most
comprehensive inspection, however, Laaly recommends
finding a NRCA-certified contractor who can examine po-
tential trouble spots and recommend changes accordingly.
That contractor may also be required to maintain your
warranty, so when it’s time to inspect the roof, consult the
manufacturer’s requirements to ensure everything is done
by the book. Any repairs for damage spotted during your
inspection must be handled the same way.
“Roofing repair warranties drive a couple of things.
First, they require periodic inspections, and if you’re not
inspecting the roof you can void your warranty,” says Davis.
“The warranty also requires that you call the manufacturer
immediately if you have a water intrusion issue. You’re
allowed to do temporary repairs to keep water from coming in until a warranty service agent can come out, but
permanent repairs to meet the warranty must be done by
an authorized repair contractor.”
3) Know Your Materials
The day to stock up on spare repair materials is not the
day water starts coming through your roof. It’s important
to be prepared in case temporary repairs are needed.
Make sure you know what material your roof is made of
and what can be used to fix it. TPO and PVC membranes
are especially tricky, Davis says – they look the same but are
not compatible with each other. After you’ve verified what
Making the right repair starts with knowing what kind of roof system is on your building, says Owen Davis, technical specialist for Professional Roof
Consultants. Understanding what type of roof you’re working with will lead
you to the correct repair materials. He recommends starting with these five
1) How old is my roof? Is it under a warranty?
2) How steep is the roof slope?
3) Is the roof smooth or does it have a grit-type texture?
4) If it is smooth, what color is it? Is it slick or shiny?
5) If it has a grit surface, is the grit from granules or rock?
REPAIR WITH THE RIGHT MATERIALS
CLEANING THE ROOF SURFACE is another important
maintenance task to remember. Consider performing a
general cleaning twice a year along with quarterly roof
inspections, Davis recommends.
OWEN DAVIS / PROFESSIONAL ROOF CONSULTAN TS