Remember that old song by Jim Croche? (Boy was he a great storyteller!) In “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim,” he tells this story full of caution about a neighborhood bully.
Cautionary tales are great. They help reinforce good behavior and ideals. One of those is roof maintenance.
Before I came to Riggins Construction and Management, Inc. in 2006, I spent six years in the roofing industry. Since 2000, I’ve seen my share of horror stories.
The roof is often a neglected part of any building. Why? It’s simple: out of sight means out of mind. The average office manager isn’t going to peek her head up through the roof hatch and give it a good look-see.
Here are four reasons to implement a regular preventive roof maintenance program:
Roof maintenance is most often required to maintain the validity of your roof membrane’s warranty. Always check with your manufacturer and installer for their recommendations and procedures.
Trees and winds can bring leaves and debris on the roof that can clog drains. They should be swept up on a semi-annual basis, especially before the rainy season.
Mastic is an asphalt-based product. These products dry out and/or shrink in the sun and should be reapplied to roof penetrations on a regular basis to maintain a water-tight roof.
4. Pipe Theft:
Copper pipe theft is a sad part of today’s reality. Just this past weekend, the restaurant across the street and the office complex next to us were hit. How much productivity was lost because they had to close? Quarterly or semi-annual roof maintenance would bring this to your attention, if not already noticed.
Cautionary Tale by The Numbers:
So perhaps now you’re convinced that roof maintenance is important (right?). The photos to the side and their numbered captions describe some of the issues that can be made known, brought to your attention, and repaired, hopefully, before they become major problems.
1. Loose parapet cornice cap and failed joint caulking is an invitation both to water and insects. Generally, we like to keep our buildings free of pests like termites (that can cause a lot of damage) and cockroaches.
2. Here is an example of ripped roofing and a crack at the joint on parapet wall. The cause is unknown but the result isn’t good.
3. Hold back the shock, but some people think you can just put a hole in the roof and that penetration is okay if there’s a bit of metal around it. Here’s an example of an improperly roofed-in penetration. The good news is that can be repaired.
4. The loose joint in the mineral capsheet over the parapet wall is like a sign in Las Vegas welcoming wind-driven rain with all-you-can-eat shrimp and steak for $4.99.
5. I’ve thought of a lot of funny captions for this like, “you know you’re a redneck if…” but I didn’t want to offend anyone.
It goes without saying that this is probably not the best way to keep water from coming in through a skylight with a missing lens. If you have an emergency, while you’re waiting for the roofing contractor to arrive, your go-to MacGyver tool should be plastic sheeting, not plywood.
Although repairing broken skylights is not part of the scope of work in roof maintenance, during the regular visits, you would, most probably, be alerted to any waterproofing issue before it came to this point.
6. This panel joint is missing caulking. Although panel joint caulking not part of the scope of work in roof maintenance, regular visits should bring this to your attention for repair.
Water intrusion inside a concrete panel can cause the rebar inside to rust and corrode, spalling the concrete panels. Rebar’s purpose is structural. Read about epoxy injection as a structural repair here.
7. Ah, palm trees waving in the wind is an iconic scene in Southern California. What you don’t want is palm fonds and other foliage touching your roof. Wind + tree branches = broken roof tiles. They can even damage the roof membrane on a flat roof if the branches are close enough to the building. Trees drop debris. Debris on a roof can easily clog drains as seen with the pine needles in Photo #9.
8. Broken and loose clay tiles on a Mansard roof can not only fall and hit a passer-by opening you up to liability, but are possible sources of water intrusion. Remember, water inside your building is bad.
9. The roof drain is clogged with debris and plant life. Standing water is never good. Think about it. The roof’s slope intentionally directed the water to this point. Where is the water going to go if the drain is the low point?
10. Wildlife is very adaptable and the water foul version of craigslist just listed this pond as a rental for a new duck family. But seriously, ponding can be caused by low spots, clogged drains, or, in this case, a through-wall scupper that’s too high.
Water is a roof’s enemy.
There’s nothing good about water intrusion. Water intrusion may present itself as a stained or damaged ceiling tile. More obscurely hidden problems include mold growth, vegetation growing on your roof (not the green roof you want), and corrosion of steel rebar inside concrete panels. These issues worsen with neglect.
And mold is no laughing matter. I always say it’s the “new asbestos.” It is a serious environmental problem that requires abatement.
According to the EPA:
Molds reproduce by means of tiny spores; the spores are invisible to the naked eye and float through outdoor and indoor air. Mold may begin growing indoors when mold spores land on surfaces that are wet. There are many types of mold, and none of them will grow without water or moisture.
It can be dangerous to ignore possible sources of water intrusion.
If a gallon of water weighs 8.25 lbs it is exerting pressure on the roof. When standing water has nowhere to go because the drains are clogged, you are at risk for a major disaster.
I’ll never forget hearing about the roof that collapsed in Irvine because of a heavy rain cycle (El Niño, if memory serves) and roof maintenance neglect.
LATimes (1/12/2001) “Downpour Takes Its Wet Toll”
The roof of Sares-Regis Group, an Irvine real estate firm at 18802 Bardeen Ave., collapsed under the weight of water, probably because drains were clogged, said Dennis Shell, spokesman for the Orange County Fire Department. No injuries were reported. Rescue workers responded to the collapse, which left a 20-foot hole in the ceiling, because the incident set off the fire alarm, Shell said. Officials estimated damage to the structure and to computers and other equipment inside to be $100,000.
Roof maintenance is just plain smart.
Many of our customers have us remind them of their quarterly, semi-annual, and annual roof maintenance plans. It’s part of what we do to serve you.
And, by the way, summer is the perfect time in Southern California to consider a roof replacement. Our rainy season, according to NetState.com, is from November to April. Check out our project profile on one such reroof and HVAC replacement.