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Self-Storage Roof Maintenance: 3 Tips for Keeping Units Dry Year Round

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The ability of water to flow through downspouts is critical to roof health.Here’s an important note on metal roofs. All roofs are like living things. They expand, contract and move through temperature change and weather-related activities. Metal roofing expands and contracts, and this action creates stress on the fasteners and forces them to back out of the roof, creating a potential leak point. Annually, inspect the roof for fasteners that need to be addressed. Fix them by installing new rubber gaskets and either a manufacturer-approved sealant or target patch. This will keep the roof in good working condition.

Also, review the seams and joints for openings and separations. You can address these areas with an elastomeric-coating product that can move with the panels. Even this form of preventive measure needs to be monitored annually. However it’s a cost-effective repair option and will keep your customers’ items protected from water intrusions.

Before Tropical Storm Allison hit in June 2001, I moved my family to Houston. We put our belongings into a 10-by-20 unit while our house was being built. During the storm, the six-day rainfall in Houston amounted to 38.6 inches. The deluge flooded 95,000 automobiles and 73,000 houses throughout Harris County. The rain also caused a major leak in our storage unit. The damage was limited to the front of the unit where the gutter became overwhelmed and water rolled back under the eave and into the storage unit. This is a common leak issue in storage units.

Tip No. 3: Keep Gutters and Drains Clean of Debris

To avoid water pooling on the roof, keep gutters free of debris.If the gutters fill up, then the water will overflow under the eave and into the unit. The biggest personal storage companies in America face a real dilemma when it comes to cleaning gutters. They need to be cleaned at least once a year, and these companies have millions of feet of gutter to clear. The work load to clean all the gutters in America’s self-storage can be daunting, but keeping the drains and gutters clear will prevent angry calls from renters.

One of the biggest issues with storage unit gutters is that most moving van drivers are amateurs with no experience driving a giant box truck. This leads to many crushed and damaged gutters in front of storage units. Another part of the prelease inspection should include a look at the condition of the downspouts and gutters around the units.

Roof leaks are like toothaches. When a toothache starts, it’s impossible to think about anything else until it’s fixed. When the water is pouring in the storage unit, the renter will not be able to think about anything else until the leak is addressed and his valuables are safe. Following these simple roofing tips will help prevent many of these leak issues before they become a problem.

Mick Handloser is a Registered Roof Observer (RRO), and a member of the National Roofing Contractors Association and the Roofing Industry Committee on Weather Issues Inc. He currently manages the accounts in the south-central and southwest U.S. for RoofConnect, which offers national roofing services. To reach him, call 870.942.5613; e-mail; visit

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