How To Run a Proper Commercial Roof Inspection
Our best advice is to leave commercial roof inspections to the experts—but if your mind is set on doing it yourself, here are some great tips.
After a heavy weather event—you might wonder if your commercial roof’s integrity has been compromised. In Colorado, we have some of the largest temperature swings in the country. Not to mention frequent hail storms, late-season snowstorms, freezing temperatures, heavy rains, and even tornadoes (all of which can wreak havoc on your commercial property’s rooftop).
The best bet for property owners is to arrange a visit with a commercial roofing company and have a professional perform a damage inspection. Many times, this service is free of charge! However, we understand how normal it is for property owners to administer their own commercial roof inspection. If your mind is absolutely set on inspecting your own rooftop, follow these simple tips from the pros at Front Range Roofing Systems, LLC.
What to look at when inspecting your commercial roof
When inspecting a commercial roof for damage and leaks, it is important to consider the following items:
- Surface membranes like TPO (you’re looking for tears, cracks, etc.)
- Roof decking (looking for soft spots, staining, warping, etc.)
- Drainage pipes (looking for clogs, splits, leaks, etc.)
- Venting systems (inspecting seams and more)
- Flashing (bent or damaged flashing)
- Gutters (you’re looking for backup, clogs, dents, pinches, etc.)
While it is best to leave these assessments to the pros, you can run a comprehensive commercial roof inspection yourself. All we ask is that you get yourself a good pair of roofing boots and that you do not administer the inspection alone. Rooftops can be VERY slippery and dangerous (especially after a storm), so you must be prepared and proceed with great caution.
Is there a lot of debris on your roof? Remove it immediately before diving into your inspection process
Remove any trash, tree limbs, or other debris from the rooftop before beginning your inspection. Once you remove materials from a certain area, look carefully for any rips, tears, buckles, or pooling water that could be lurking underneath. You want to make sure that the debris did not cause a tear or dent in the roof’s surface material. If you notice some damage, make sure to mark it properly with some chalk (and note it in your maintenance log book).
Since a lot of commercial rooftops are FLAT, it’s critical to check flat surfaces for tips, tears, buckles, and more
If your roof is already leaking and you are trying to find the damage that is causing the leak, sometimes a flood test is required to get a pinpoint on the source. This is something that a commercial roofing company would have to do for you. If your roof is NOT leaking and you are just running an inspection after a weather event, get low and check flat surfaces for punctures. Punctures can turn into cracks, and cracks only get bigger (they never “shrink”). The crack can start very small and then get larger and larger with each passing season. Having the punctures and cracks properly repaired can stop that process from causing serious structural damage to your commercial property investment.
Do you have parapet walls on your roof? You should also closely inspect all of the corners and seams. If anything is peeling away or cracked, it is extremely crucial that corrective measures are taken immediately.
Check for pools of water—your drainage systems could be failing and causing water to back up on your roof.
As mentioned before, a quick check for any areas of pooling water is smart. This could mean that your roof isn’t properly draining, and pooling water can certainly cause damage. When water is always sitting in one spot, it will eventually break its way in. If you see anything like this, document it and take proper photos.
Inspect all of the roof’s flashing for damage.
Flashing usually consists of flat pieces of metal that direct water away from key structural features such as seams, corners, rooftop venting systems, and more. Check all of the flashings for dents, bends, and more. If you see that the flashing has pulled away from integral seams, it is extremely important to document this and get it repaired by a professional commercial roofing company. Knowing the location of all your rooftop’s flashing areas is critical. Document all of these areas and the condition of the material. Flashing should be replaced every few years anyway, especially in Colorado with the hail, temperature swings, heavy winds, and high altitude weather in general.
Your gutters and downspouts must be properly looked at during a self-inspection.
When you are checking your gutters, you are looking for damage and clogging. Clogged gutters might sound simple (this is the bane of homeowners everywhere), but they are another area of concern if not properly maintained. Clogged gutters will cause pooling in areas on your roof, which will eventually lead to leaks and structural damage. Making sure your gutters are still properly secured to the building is one thing, but running water through them to see if they are draining properly is a great test to run.
Additionally, your downspouts COULD get pinched or damaged, causing the water to backflow onto areas of the rooftop. Inspect your downspouts and make sure there is no pinching, cracks, or general damage.
Take photos, use a logbook, mark found damage with chalk, and call your commercial roofing partner.
When it comes to self-inspection, we have full confidence that our customers can handle it. However, when it comes to professional repairs and keeping your property investment healthy, please call on the experts to repair the roof properly. In many cases, the commercial roofers will still want to perform their own comprehensive inspection (just to double-check that nothing was missed).
Are you sick of running your own inspections? Check out Front Range Roofing’s RAM program! It includes regularly scheduled inspections, maintenance, and repair services. If you’re looking to save some time, feel free to delegate this to us. We hope this article helps with your self-inspections!