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Self-Storage Roofs: How Preventative Maintenance Makes Dollars and Sense


By Anthony Vross

If you’re not being proactive about roof maintenance at your self-storage property, you’re not alone. However, that doesn’t make it right. The run-to-failure model allows facility operators to believe they’re saving money on upkeep, but it’s actually the contrary.

In roofing, if you wait until it’s broke to fix it, you can spend nearly twice as much on repairs and premature replacements than if you stayed ahead of issues. And that’s only taking into consideration roof-related costs. Think of the potential damage to your customers’ goods. Practicing proactive maintenance is proven to be more cost-effective in the long run because it extends the life of the roof and delays the expense of replacement.

Prevent Bigger Problems

Here’s a common scenario: A self-storage manager detects a leak in one of his buildings and dispatches a roofing company to repair it. But he neglects to address anything else on the verge of disrepair until the next leak. Then, another service call is needed and the budget takes another hit.

The numbers speak for themselves. Those who only react to problems as they occur pay an average of 25 cents per square foot annually in roofing expenses. Those who routinely inspect and proactively repair—before leaks occur—spend an average of only 14 cents per square foot annually. Plus, maintained roofs last an average of 21 years compared to an average lifespan of 13 years for roofs under reactive maintenance, according to “Roofing Contractor,” a magazine for roofing professionals.

The longer you extend your roof’s life before succumbing to replacement, the more its life-cycle costs decrease, and the more budget dollars you have to spend on other facility needs. Being disciplined with proactive maintenance will not only prolong the life of your roof, it’ll minimize the leaks and other disruptions that occur when you don’t have an accurate assessment of its condition.

There are now sophisticated diagnostic tools, data-analysis programs and scientifically formulated restoration systems available in the commercial roofing industry. Relying on these to effectively asses a roof’s condition, forecast its remaining life and show cost-saving methods to extend its useful life may reveal that you don’t need that complete tear-off and replacement after all.

Assess the Roof

Proactive roof-asset management includes projecting capital expenses for preventive maintenance, repairs and other services designed to extend the life of the roof. The most critical part of this planning is an accurate, scientific-based measurement of the roof’s life expectancy. Asset management can’t be effective if this calculation is incomplete or incorrect.

The first step is an inspection. The National Roofing Contractors Association recommends that roofs be inspected at least twice per year. Such reviews should be thorough, including a test of roof membranes and core sampling in addition to infrared scans to detect wet insulation, as well as visual examinations.

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