Long Term Strategy

— By Tom Dawson —

Tips to extend the life of a roof.


A new roof is a substantial investment that can cost thousands of dollars. With adequate maintenance and attention, a roof’s lifespan can be significantly increased. If a roof is left unmaintained or ignored, expensive repairs or replacement costs will arise. The purpose of this article is to provide several money-saving suggestions that can be immediately implemented and introduce other long term strategies to extend the lifespan of a roof.

Keep the Manufacturer’s Warranty Valid

Tom Dawson, RoofingSource

Many businesses are not aware if they have a roof warranty or fully understand what benefits are included in the policy. For example, requirements like routine preventive maintenance must be performed and documented to keep most warranties valid. If avoided, the warranty can become void. Additionally, ponding water and third-party damage are NOT covered by a roofing warranty. It is important to know what a roofing warranty covers and how to reap the most value from it.

How to ensure a roofing warranty stays valid:

  • Notify the manufacturer of any service performed to the roof. This includes leaks, maintenance and repairs.
  • Make sure that “like-to-like” repairs are made. “Like-to-like” repairs are when the same membrane is used on top of the existing membrane. For example, on a PVC roof, PVC material must be used and not roof cement.
  • Implement a routine preventative maintenance program for both the roof membrane and its rooftop units, like its HVAC units, exhaust fans and grease containment systems.

Determine if the Roof Actually Needs to be Replaced

On many occasions, businesses are told they need a new roof when that may not be the case. Some roofs can be prolonged with the proper maintenance and care. When a building is undergoing a remodel, the general contractor on the project often insists that a new roof must be put on because they are compensated by a percentage of the total job cost. Having another set of eyes on the roof will help give another perspective of its true condition to evaluate if restoring the current roof is a more cost-effective option.

A good way to determine the condition and realistic future lifespan of a roof is through an annual inspection from a certified roofing contractor. An annual inspection allows decision-makers to get a larger view of the roof and understand if there has been a recurring issue. Diagnostic tools like core cuts and infrared imaging can show the moisture content of the roof and help decide if the roof should be replaced. Additional items that can shed light on the true condition of a roof include the condition of rooftop units, parapet flashing and drainage systems.

Implement an Inexpensive Maintenance Routine

As mentioned previously, preventative maintenance is not just proactive and smart, but a maintenance plan is required by most roofing manufacturers. A certified roofing contractor is highly recommended to be used when performing preventative maintenance. In-house personnel should avoid conducting any maintenance on the roof as it can significantly increase the risk of an accident or injury. Examples of rooftop preventive maintenance include, but are not limited to, cleaning grease containment systems, removing all debris and cleaning HVAC units. All maintenance that is completed should include before/after photos and sign-off approval from on-site management.

While all rooftop maintenance is essential, proper routine grease containment is vital for restaurants. Regardless of which roofing membrane is on the roof, grease causes chemical damage and will eat through the membrane causing pesky leaks and expensive long term damage.

Know Who is on the Roof and Why

Third-party vendors, like HVAC technicians cutting filters to size or workers installing signage, can cause serious unintentional damage to the roof. Remember that most roofing warranties DO NOT cover third-party damage. If staff members or others need to go on the roof, it is recommended that walk pads or sacrificial sheets are used and require before and after photos and signature/sign-off so there is accountability for the services provided. Many leading restaurant brands install additional membrane in high foot traffic areas or where grease is commonly discharged.

Ultimately, a roof is a valuable asset to a building and needs to be properly maintained in order to maximize its life and ensure its full value. The best way to ensure a roof is getting the proper attention is by seeking a trusted roofing contractor that takes a holistic roof management approach. Holistic roof management is when roofing decisions are made with the entire roof and its units in mind and not just solely focused on the roofing membrane.

Seek a roofing contractor who doesn’t just push the installation of a new roof but proposes repairs or other creative solutions to extend a current roof. Also, ensure the contractor understands the interrelatedness of rooftop units and how they affect both the roofing membrane and, ultimately, the business’ operations. By addressing the rooftop as a whole, it is much easier to proactively and intelligently extend the life of a roof and its respective assets.




— Tom Dawson is director of operations & sales at Chicago-based RoofingSource, the go-to roofing partner for the nation’s leading brands. RoofCare, RoofingSource’s flagship program, provides a leak-free guarantee at a fixed price. For more information, email [email protected].


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