Special Maintenance Considerations for Flat Commercial Roofing
Flat commercial roofing requires a special maintenance plan to optimize the lifetime of your flat rooftop.
When it comes to flat roof maintenance, Front Range Roofing has a LOT of experience. Since our customers deal in commercial properties, a large percentage of our work involves flat commercial roofing. In many cases, flat roofing is the most logical choice for larger buildings. It’s economical, it maximizes the property’s interior space, and it cuts down on interior NOISE because it can house things like AC units, swamp coolers, venting systems, and more. While flat roofing is a logical choice for a commercial property, there are some pretty specific maintenance needs and long-term implications to consider.
We recommend a roof inspection twice per year (and after every heavy storm).
It might sound like an overabundance of caution, but there’s a lot that can go wrong with flat commercial roofing. An inspection twice a year with an experienced commercial roofing contractor is highly recommended. A lot of the more experienced roofing companies will have an asset management program that is meant to take commercial roof maintenance off your hands and place it firmly in the hands of the experts. For example, Front Range Roofing has a “RAM” program that includes account management and pre-scheduled preventative maintenance. We check the roof twice a year and document any repairs and/or alterations. Our service engineers will also document the shape of the roof through photos so we can check for any big changes between regular inspections.
Inspections and flat roof maintenance should be very thorough.
Gabled and single-sloped rooftops that simply drain into a gutter system don’t require as much attention as flat rooftops. Of course, they still require regular maintenance, but flat commercial roofing is susceptible to unique issues. During an inspection, it is extremely important to check for things such as “ponding,” flashing deterioration, splits, cracks, bad seals around plumbing stacks, and other potential problems. We recommend letting your commercial roofing company perform the inspections as well; sometimes a trained eye will catch things that other folks will miss. At Front Range Roofing, our roofing inspection team performs the following maintenance checks:
- A basic “walk-around” to check for debris, rips, splits, blistering, and more. All debris must be removed from the rooftop, along with marking everything (for example, splits, swollen areas, debris areas).
- Detailed photos of instinctual problem areas will be taken. This includes corners, sections with a lot of seams/seals, drainage zones, and more. This will allow the next inspector to view photos of what the flat commercial roof looked like during the previous inspection.
- A meticulous inspection of surfaces, seams, and seals always takes place. Any place where two roofing materials are adjoined is susceptible to leaking, and the same holds true for seals on air vents, skylights, air conditioning units, and other rooftop installations.
- We next move to check the rooftop’s flashing. Flat commercial roofing requires flashing at all of the corners. This includes parapet walls, platform corners, and more. Flashing wears down very easily in our Colorado sun, wind, hail, and snow—so we make sure to check and replace the flashing very regularly to mitigate water intrusion as much as possible.
- We look for “ponding.” Ponding is exactly what it sounds like—it’s when an area doesn’t have proper drainage. A small puddle is created and it won’t drain or dry out. This creates a low area on the roof, accompanied by a stained “ring” around the affected area. When we see this, we provide recommendations on how to get additional drainage from that zone.
- The next step is to check all of the drainage areas. Scuppers, vents, and gutters need to be checked for blockages. If the water can’t drain properly, you will see issues such as ponding and unwanted surface depressions.
- A final check is made on all pitch pans to ensure they are all properly filled and sealed. The sealant material will break down over time, and it’s important to make sure any old cracked sealant is removed and replaced.
- Once the inspection is completed, our technician will make a full recommendations report on the condition of the roof, what repairs are required, and other suggestions for future maintenance.
Flat commercial roofing needs to be replaced every 20 years (give or take).
It’s important to remember that your property’s flat roof will require more frequent replacement or restoration compared to a gabled or single-sloped roof. If you’ve chosen a flat rooftop for your commercial building, you are probably looking to reap the benefits mentioned above by putting functional items up there such as plumbing vents, air conditioning units, heating units, and more. This creates more seams that require sealing, which creates a higher chance for water penetration. If you have a good commercial roofing partner, they will tell you when it’s time for a full restoration or commercial roof replacement.
Flat roofing comes with a lot of benefits, but a stringent maintenance plan is highly recommended.
When it comes to making your commercial rooftop last as long as possible (without pushing it too far), a detailed maintenance plan is required. If you’re designing a new building and you’ve decided on a flat roofing system, that’s a great choice! Just be sure to consider a dedicated budget for preventative maintenance and regular repairs. Nobody likes surprise costs; those surprises can be alleviated by creating a realistic flat roof maintenance budget with an experienced commercial roofing partner.
Questions? Contact us today!
Do you want to learn about our Roof Asset Management package pricing? Or perhaps your roof is ready for an inspection? Call Front Range Roofing today! We’ve been serving Colorado and Wyoming with professional commercial roofing services for over 30 years, and we’re ready to bring our expertise to your commercial property.