Roof MaintenanceKeeping it covered

Roof Maintenance
Keeping it covered

By Rick Dodge

Roof maintenance is one of the most overlooked issues of a building project, yet it's the simplest maintenance to perform. Like most other major purchases, such as a car or your home, in order to increase the life of the product, periodic maintenance is required.

When was the last time you inspected the roof of your self-storage facility? Whether it is a built-up system (tar and gravel) or a metal roof, inspections are very important to increasing the life of the roof. These inspections are just as important as changing the oil in your car, or visiting the dentist or medical doctor for physicals.

The fact is most property owners or managers do not maintain their roofs properly, causing the rapid decrease in life cycle of the roof. It then just wears out before its time. Some of the simple areas of a roof to inspect are as follows:

Built-Up Roofs

  • Bubbles in the asphalt topping
  • Cracks in the asphalt topping
  • Water ponding
  • Flashing attachments loose
  • Exposed sealants have cracks and/or bubbles
  • Gutters and downspouts

Thru-Fastener Metal Roofs (Screw-Down Panels)

  • Missing screws
  • Screws popping up
  • Rubber washers deteriorating
  • Lap joints separating
  • Flashing fasteners loose
  • Exposed sealants have cracks and/or bubbles
  • Gutters and downspouts

Standing-Seam Metal Roofs

  • Panel laps separation
  • Flashing fasteners loose
  • Exposed sealants have cracks and/or bubbles
  • Gutters and downspouts

Regardless of what type of roof your facility has, the most common and overlooked area for problems are the gutters and downspouts. Customer debris, soda cans and leaves are the biggest cause of water-drainage restrictions. Downspout exits become blocked and the water backs up most often into the building at the eaves.

For roofs that have seen time pass them by, there is a solution: retrofit roofing. Retrofit roofing (re-roof over the existing roof) can be a salvation to replacement roofing as well as enhancing your facility for appearance and value. These systems are generally lightweight and add very little dead load to your existing structure. These types of roofs also add positive drainage, which can decrease further deterioration to old roofs and erosion to your building. Some other advantages include the following:

  • No expense for disposal of old roof materials
  • No disruption of normal business
  • Additional insulation can be added to increase thermal efficiencies
  • The speed of completion

Retrofit roofing most commonly utilizes standing-seam metal roof panels, which install by the use of clips, eliminating the need for exposed fasteners. These types of roofs are now standard for most self-storage facilities, which will increase your facility value by upgrading to more recent standards.

Retrofit roofing is affordable and can be phased into a project over time without creating undue pressure on the wallet. Since most self-storage projects have multiple buildings, retrofitting one or two at a time can help defray costs. This also allows you to prioritize your roof problems and resolve the most serious ones first.

Basic re-roof costs start at approximately $2.25 per square foot. This would provide for a new slope of at least 1/4:12 with light-gauge framing members attached to your existing building, galvalume standing-seam roof panel system, and pre-painted flashings such as gutters, downspouts and gable trim. Other considerations must be made for parapets, roof steps and roof penetrations such as HVAC units, firewalls and vent pipes. Insulation can also be added for buildings with climate-control units or those to be converted to climate control. Product warranties are generally for 20 years and installation warranties vary depending on vendor.

Don't wait for your roof to be a problem. Inspect it periodically and develop a program for maintenance. This will increase your project life expectancy and provide the high rewards you expected.

Rick Dodge is vice president of sales and operations for Rib-Roof Inc., a Rossville, Tenn.-based manufacturer of metal-roofing systems, retrofit-roofing systems and light-gauge building systems for the self-storage industry. The company's services include design, engineering and nationwide installation. For more information, call (800) 876-9062;

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