Don’t Live a Roofing Nightmare!
With the spring season upon us, heavy rainfall is to be expected in most parts of the country. Unfortunately for some building owners, this means roof leaks are also to be expected. With that in mind, let’s revisit an article written by Mike Russo, RSI Associate Publisher & Editor, which examines a real-life “roofing nightmare” and emphasizes the importance of regular roof maintenance.
Mike Russo, RSI Associate Publisher & Editor
It’s hard to understand why some building owners remain in denial as the roofs over their heads deteriorate. I have a friend in the roofing industry who’s living his own roofing nightmare right now.
As I sit with him in his office, we catch ourselves looking up at an exposed roof deck above a suspended fabric ceiling. After an unusually wet year in Northeast Ohio, we know the 2.5 inches of composite board insulation are saturated and the seams of this once proud PVC roof are opening. I’ve walked the roof with him and wondered what became of the striking, sloped single-ply membrane we all admired when this building first opened in 1982. This roof graced the cover of our inaugural issue of Roof Design in March 1983, and now it’s in tatters. It leaks—primarily over the computer room, a temperature-controlled “nursery” that houses rows of sensitive mainframes. Employees in that section of the building are moving their desktops around, dodging the drips. The scene is reminiscent of all those roofing ads we’ve seen with the pails and umbrellas. Except this is happening to them, and it isn’t funny.
Simply put, this Ohio company was spoiled by the superior performance of their reinforced PVC roof. If not for its strength and the roof ’s considerable slope, they would have been in this situation years earlier. But the roof gave its owners a false sense of security.
Despite warnings from the building manager, they paid lip service to roof maintenance.
Mike Russo Associate Publisher & Editor
Despite warnings from the building manager, they paid lip service to roof maintenance. The roof was cleaned—for aesthetic purposes only—regularly during its life. The only real repairs ever made were on the flashings around the skylights. Unlike most roof mem- branes, skylights typically leak—early and often. Needless to say, if the company had spent about $3.00 per square foot five years ago for a remedial restoration—maybe seam repairs and a coating—it wouldn’t be facing a complete roof tear-off today.
There’s an old saw heard often in the roofing industry: A roof accounts for only 10% of the total cost of constructing a building, but 90% of its problems down the road. If this is true, then this company got away easy. It spent nothing on roof maintenance for more than 20 years. But now it is faced with disposing of 60,000 square feet of soggy, mechanically attached insulation and PVC roofing.
What went wrong?
Managing a commercial facility is much like running a business. The key fundamental concern is cash flow. Successful business owners ensure that their companies flourish by using strict financial controls. In other words, they work to keep expenses down while maximizing the cash-generating functions. In this regard, the managers of this particular company were experts. Unfortunately, major roof repairs were deferred for too long. Even smart business owners and facility managers make costly mistakes when it comes to roof maintenance—or the lack of it. The goal of this special supplement is to prove to you that maintenance does pay.
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