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The Fountain Of Youth – Extending Roof Service Life

Many have searched for the secret of longevity since explorer Ponce de Leon’s famous Florida pursuit of the elusive fountain of youth. During these difficult economic times, building owners and facilities managers are especially interested in the quest for longevity when it applies to extending their facilities’ roof life.

Maintenance of a roofing systems has also taken center stage because of the recent trend to downsize staff within the facilities management departments and increased outsourcing. Facilities managers want the secret to making roofs last. The answer lies in roof management. A simple, well thought-out, continual plan for roof maintenance can prevent many of the problems that damage roofs and necessitate costly repairs.

The first step in proper roof maintenance is choosing the right roof for the facility. “No. 1 is getting a proper design. To do that, we look at specific items – criteria to make sure we get a good design,” explains Steve Kruse of RAMCON Roofing.

In addition to choosing roofing products that meet code requirements, building owners should consider access, the complexity of the roof, the condition of the existing substrate, drainage issues, and insulation – all before installation. “Many times [building owners] know a product and they say, ‘Let’s make this product fit this particular building,’” says Kruse. “Rarely do you have one product that fits every need.” To have roofs last longer and perform at optimal levels, the three key initial steps are:

1. Proven products.
2. Application appropriate design.
3. High-quality construction methods.

Most building owners and facilities professionals expect roofing systems to perform for 20 years or more. However, this length of life is only possible with preventive maintenance. Once a facility is outfitted with a well-designed roof, maintaining it doesn’t have to be complicated. RAMCON believes the first step of roof maintenance is simply inspecting a roof on a regular basis. Checking for simple things, such as punctures or poor damage, especially after major storms, can save building owners from expensive repairs in the future.

RAMCON urges facilities departments to take a proactive – rather than reactive – stance to roof maintenance. Facilities departments with proactive roof management programs have the best track record of extending the life of their roofing portfolio and enhancing the value of the initial roof investment.

Another common mistake made by facility departments that can shorten roof life is selecting the wrong solution for a problem. For example, using a mastic to stop leaks that is incompatible with a particular roofing system.

Education on roofing systems is a crucial aspect of extending roof life. One of the things RAMCON stresses is that it is easy for someone to go up on the roof and say you need to replace it. The more difficult thing is to find out exactly how to make the roof last longer.

Typically, the cost of maintaining a roofing system is a very small percentage of the initial cost of the roof. Making sure a roof has the longest life possible pays back huge dividends.

The long search for the secret to longevity is over. It’s not about discussing proactive maintenance…it’s about performing it.