How to Extend Your Commercial Roof’s Lifespan

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The roof over your business is one of those things that can be readily taken for granted — until something goes horribly wrong with it. A poorly maintained roof will require constant repairs, accruing an inflated cost of upkeep in the long-term. It may also pose safety issues and eventually necessitate a bank-breaking full roof replacement. Replacing commercial roofing systems is not only extremely expensive but may cause disruptions to your business too.

Thankfully, commercial roofs are designed with longevity in mind. They are guaranteed to last up to their full potential lifespan as long as you or your facility manager allocate the dollars, effort and foresight needed to support it adequately. Let’s look in detail at what it means to care for your commercial roofing system responsibly.

Roofing Inspections

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Why Do You Need Regular Roofing Inspections?

Regular inspections are the number one tried-and-true way to maximize the life of your roof. The primary purpose of an inspection is to locate potential issues early on so that repairs can be made before your roof starts to show signs of more severe damage. Just as you take your car in for regular maintenance or go to see the doctor for a yearly visit, your roof needs a check-up now and then too.

While you certainly can and should also self-inspect your roof, especially immediately after storms or high winds, it’s ideal to hire a professional for your formal inspections. Expert roof inspectors will be able to spot problem areas that your untrained eye would have passed over.

What Happens During a Roofing Inspection?

First, your professional roofer will assess your building’s interior and exterior. They will search inside the building for signs of water damage, leakage and mold in your walls, ceiling and attic. The exterior and roof are then surveyed for missing shingles, granules, debris, cracks, leaks and ponding. By the end of a thorough inspection, your roofer will be able to give recommendations specific to your immediate issue(s) and particular roofing system. They will mock up an estimate of the total cost of repairs, including costs of materials and labor, according to the extent of your roof’s damage.

When Is the Best Time to Schedule an Inspection?

The general rule of thumb is to schedule inspections twice a year. In the spring, your roofing expert will uncover damage inflicted by snowstorms and ice. In the fall, they will measure any damage resulting from summer heat and autumn leaves.

Regular Maintenance

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Long-Term Maintenance Plan

While the roofing inspection is designed to shine a light on any existing damage, regular maintenance helps to prevent damage from occurring in the first place. Consult with your roofing contractor to create a long-term maintenance plan that addresses your roofing system’s unique concerns, your climate and geographical location. A roofing forecast is a comprehensive summary of the costs and threats you can expect to come in the future, given your roof’s current condition. This degree of planning will help to prepare your budget and mindset for the long run.

Preventative Maintenance

Aside from a forecasting report, your long-term maintenance plan will mostly consist of preventative maintenance. Preventative maintenance refers to the habit of checking your roof after storms and windy days for cracks or leaks, and upon discovery of damage, immediately calling your roofing contractor for repairs. The sooner you detect and resolve issues, the less likely any pending damage will cause further issues.

Preventative maintenance also involves cleaning your roof regularly to remove leaves, debris and animal bones left behind by birds. Cleaning allows water to drain unhindered off the roof and reflective coatings to reflect heat to their fullest potential.

Know Your Roof’s Warranty Policies

In the event that you do find any issues with your roof during inspections or regular maintenance, check with your warranty first to see if it’s covered. Your warranty most likely won’t help with “acts of God,” or in other words, severe weather events. However, most policies will protect you from defective materials or improper installation. If you work with expert roofers and invest in top-notch materials in the first place, you will probably never need to call upon your warranty policy.

Emergency Plan

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Design Emergency Plans in Advance

Don’t get caught unprepared with an ugly surprise. Having a plan of action before an emergency occurs is simply wise and practical. Your emergency plan should complement your maintenance plan. As stated previously, repairing damage as early as possible prevents other more expensive problems. Your full step-by-step emergency process should outline contacting your roofing service for the inspection, prioritizing types of damage to repair, documenting the repairs and managing the work from start to finish.

Budgeting for Roofing Repairs

Your business should already have put aside a financial reserve for short-term and long-term emergencies. Did you factor roofing repairs or replacement into that figure? Roofers commonly recommend saving at least $750 for essential maintenance. However, a full roofing replacement costs tens of thousands of dollars.

Insurance

Insurance exists to help protect our valuables against emergencies without resulting in financial ruin. Your roof is an invaluable and expensive necessity that keeps you safe and may be prone to unforeseen damage — why wouldn’t you take out an insurance policy to protect it? Shop around to find the insurance policy that covers the majority of the potential risks outlined in your roofing forecast. When an emergency does occur, you’ll know it won’t financially drain your business.

Quality & Durability of Materials

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The lifespan of commercial roofing systems is generally 10 to 30 years. The noticeably wide range is due to a variety of factors — not only the degree to which it has been maintained, but also how well your roof was installed and the quality and durability of your roofing materials. By vetting and hiring professional roofing contractors to install your roof, you are already taking the first step to increasing your roof’s longevity.

The type of roofing material you should use will depend on your unique situation. Your climate, location and individual priorities like eco-friendliness or energy efficiency should all factor into your decision. When looking exclusively at longevity and durability, however, not all roofing materials are equal. Asphalt shingles are reasonably durable, as long as they have a high hail rating, and last 15 to 30 years. Wood shingles are somewhat durable, even though they are neither fireproof nor impervious to splitting, but they last 30 to 50 years. With a lifespan of up to 70 years, metal roofs are among the most durable and long-lasting materials. Plastic polymer, slate and clay tile roofs are the most durable materials across the board, lasting over 50 years and up to 100 years. Unfortunately, the flip side of the latter materials’ superior longevity and durability is higher cost.

Commercial roofing must be taken seriously if you want it to last as long as it could. Through regular maintenance and inspections, proper emergency measures, and investing in durable and long-lasting materials, your roof will be almost indestructible. The reward for the time and effort you put into your roof now is decades of unperturbed security and financial health.