It’s Time to Get Prepared: Are You Roof Ready?
Now that we’re fully into the fall season, it’s time to get prepared. Over the past couple of months, we’ve experienced devastating weather conditions including Hurricane Ida, which is still impacting Louisiana. The early videos of the record-breaking winds ripping off roofs of hospitals and other buildings should make all building owners and facility managers question whether they’re ‘roof ready’ for the next storm. Even this week, the New England coast saw the first nor'easter of the season with wind speeds as high as 94 mph. Regardless of whether you’re in a vulnerable territory or not, any severe weather event could be catastrophic to your building envelope. So, this is a perfect time to schedule a detailed roof inspection with a professional roofing contractor to ensure that your roof is adequately prepared for the next storm, hurricane, or the upcoming winter season.
Remove Roof Debris
It’s always a good idea to look around the outside of your commercial building for anything that could potentially damage the roof in high winds, and have your maintenance departmenttrim tree branches that are hanging over the roof. Once on theroof, clear any debris that has fallen onto the roof including branches, leaves, dirt, or anything left on the roof, and have your contractor inspect the roof for potential damage by the fallen debris. If a storm is imminent, and you happen to be having roofing work done, it is probably a good idea to ask the contractor to remove unused roofing materials and equipmentand secure them for the storm. Your goal is to leave the roof as clean and free of debris as possible, to minimize potential damage, and also to ensure that water can flow uninterrupted to the drains or scuppers.
Inspect Drains and Clear Blockages
Hurricanes, tornadoes, and thunderstorms can all include significant amounts of rainfall—and sometimes in a very short period of time. As such, it’s critical that the roof drains are flowing properly and at full capacity to get water—and excess weight—off the roof.
Your contractor will likely check a variety of things on the roof, starting with the drains and clearing any debris or blockage from around the outside of the drainpipe. In addition, all drain strainer domes should be removed to make sure that the drain leader/pipe is also free and clear of debris. Sometimes, small sticks and leaves get stuck in the drainpipe and prevent or slow the drain. In the worst cases, this can cause a backup of water on the roof.
Your contractor should also clear any blockages in the drain leader. It could also be a good time to consider replacing damaged drains or strainer domes with an upgraded vortex breaker strainer that can provide up to 2.5 times greater water flow. This will help to reduce the excess water that comes from torrential rain and move it off the roof, protecting the roof system and the entire building envelope. Next, have your contractor check and clear all gutters, downspouts, and scuppers to ensure that water flows properly through them, and off the roof.
Check Edge System
The metal edge system on most commercial roofs is a critical component for the security of the roofing system and is considered the roof’s first line of defense against high winds. So, it’s vital that your contractor also check to make sure that the edge metal is ready for the elements. Make sure it’s secured properly to the building without any gaps or damage and be sure to check the edge on both the inside and the outside of the roof, and have your contractor fix any issues right away.
Address Small Repairs
Beyond the edge system, it’s the perfect time to evaluate the entire roofing system. Some common issues that your contractor will likely check include damage or wear and tear to the roofing membrane, sealants, and flashing. A small repair today could prevent a larger issue and prevent a potential leak from a severe storm. Also keep in mind that major storms also bring severe winds, which is your roof’s biggest enemy, so have your contractor spend the time to evaluate the flashing around the perimeter of the roof, as well as at any curbs or other structures such as AC units on the roof.
Secure Rooftop Pipes
This is also a great time to make sure that any rooftop pipes or conduit carrying water, industrial liquids, gas, or electrical lines are firmly secured in place and protected from potential movement. When rooftop pipes move, not only can it impact the equipment they are connected to, but it can also damage the pipes themselves, as well as the roofing cover, exposing the building to potential leaks. PipeGuard units are available in several sizes and can be installed in less than three seconds. Since they do not require additional materials or tools, these units can be quickly and easily installed right before a severe storm.
Have a Plan Ready
As you would at home with your family, it is important to have a preventative maintenance plan in place for your commercial roof. At the bare minimum, planning a roof inspection before each hurricane season or late fall could be enough to help you survive a terrible storm. In addition, establishing a regular schedule of roof drain inspections by a professional can not only help when several inches of rain falls in one day, but also throughout a rainy season. And checking the roof membrane andedge system for uplift from the wind would alert you of potential problems. The earlier your roofer identifies an issue, the sooner it can be corrected.
Invest in a New Roof
If your roof inspection uncovers more problems than anticipated, it might be time to consider a re-roofing project. Especially as the weather continues to worsen across the globe, an investment in a retrofit roof could prove to be cost-effective in the future. In a re-roofing project, your contractor will be able to address the issues that have the greatest impact the roofing system and it’s long term performance.