Roof Maintenance Misconceptions
David Pavlicek, Director of Service & Repairs, Commercial Roofing
As featured in Building Industry’s December 2020 Issue.
The most common question I’ve been asked is “can I repair this or do I need to re-roof?” My response is always – the roof system and all its components need to be assessed to determine the remaining life of the roof. What is critical, is the amount of moisture that has entered the system and the affect this will have on the roof deck and its structure. After being in the roofing industry for over 40 years, I’ve seen the lifecycles of all types of roof systems and what works to extend the life of your roof no matter where you are in the life cycle, and what doesn’t work.
Here are a couple of common misconceptions about roof maintenance out there:
Misconception #1: I’m covered – I have a roof warranty in place.
Truth: A roof warranty is your manufacturer’s assurance that the roof system you installed will last for the time period identified under normal conditions with regular maintenance. It is a common misunderstanding that your roof warranty will cover any roofing problem no matter the cause. The reality is that most manufacturers specify in their warranties that regular maintenance is required and negligence to do so may void your warranty. Reading and understanding your warranty is critical. Warranties are written to protect the manufacturer.
Misconception #2: Nothing can happen to my roof, it’s not moving, it just sits there.
Truth: While a roof is not actively “moving” like an elevator or HVAC system, it is the first point of impact by the elements. Hawaii’s climate is harsh on roofing systems – constant UV impact and heat causes the expansion and contraction of the building envelope which in turn impacts the roofing system.
Also, what your roof looked like a year ago is likely not what your roof looks like today. Data is perishable. Roofs are accessed by all types of contractors maintaining their equipment on the roof and unintended damage to the roof often occurs. Depending on the immediate surroundings, foliage or other debris can quickly pile up potentially clogging and backing up the water exit points on the rooftop leading to overflow and leaks.
Misconception #3: My maintenance person can take care of my roof.
Truth: Today’s roofing systems have come a long way! They are complex, utilizing an array of materials like rubbers, modified asphalts, plastics, wood, asphalt and aluminum, metals and other types of synthetic materials. Most building maintenance personnel are not trained to understand the complexity of today’s roof systems. Utilizing incompatible materials very often does more harm than good. Keep in mind that an improper repair can also risk voiding the manufacturer’s warranty.
Trying to “save” more with in-house repairs can often end up costing the owner more if the repair doesn’t work, the repair has to be undone and fixed properly or the repair was made using wrong materials and voided the manufacturer’s warranty.
Maintenance Misconception #4: Roof Maintenance Programs are expensive.
Truth: Depending on your roof’s existing condition, typically a maintenance program would cost as little as 1% of its replacement value annually. Roofing is a major capital expenditure. Ask any of the major roof manufacturers, and they would agree the best thing you can do to maximize the long-term performance of your roof would be establishing a maintenance program for regular inspections. Investing a minimal amount to be proactive is absolutely worth it to protect your investment.
Hawaii’s sunny climate is harsh on roofing systems. Constant exposure to the elements and severe weather causes the natural material wear and tear over time. Keeping an eye on critical areas like flashings and penetrations, upkeeping maintenance and keeping water exit points clear are key to mitigating premature roof failures and emergency leak situations. Most roof systems in Hawaii succumb to premature roof failure because of the environmental stresses and the lack of regular maintenance.
What Doesn’t Work
- Waiting until it leaks to look at the roof
- Out of sight, out of mind mentality
- Regular Inspections and Maintenance
- Identifying and addressing minor issues immediately
- Documenting regular maintenance for future warranty claims
- Make repairs immediately and correctly. Cheap repairs are a waste of time and money.
WHY MAINTAIN AN OLD ROOF?
- Buy some time to build up reserve funds towards re-roofing
- Prevent damages to operations below with proactive assessments
WHY MAINTAIN A NEW ROOF?
- Prevent voiding your roof warranty due to negligence of regular maintenance
- Identify and address minor issues early before they become costly and damaging
- Maximize the performance and longevity of your roof system
Roofing is an expensive capital expenditure. It is an industry best practice to maintain the roof. While it may not be a moving element such as an elevator or HVAC system, the repercussions of a damaged roof such as water damage to operations below or moisture that attracts mildew can be costly. A minimal investment in regular roof maintenance can save you thousands as well as keeping your existing manufacturer’s roof warranty valid.
David Pavlicek is the Director of the Service & Repairs Division at Commercial Roofing & Waterproofing Hawaii Inc. He brings over 40 years of industry experience to the company having worked on a variety of projects spanning commercial, industrial, education, government and military sectors. He has worked on all sides of the industry including the field, distribution channels and as a manufacturers technical rep for leading product lines in Hawaii. Commercial Roofing & Waterproofing is one of the largest commercial roofing contractors in Hawaii having installed nearly every type of roofing system across the islands. Services include roofing, waterproofing, roof maintenance programs, repairs, gutter installation and solar PV. For more information on a Roof Maintenance Program, please contact David at 808-225-6772 or email email@example.com.