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The Math Works

In July of 2010, a Florida industrial facility was approaching 22 years of age. Excluding the HVAC units, there had never been more than a couple of minor roof leaks at any given time. The vast majority of time, the facility was leak free during rain storms due to an aggressive MyRAMCON Gold Star Program.

How much benefit was realized from the aggressive MyRAMCON maintenance program for this building? The answer is a great deal.

Why Proactive Roof Maintenance Worked

The story of this facility begins with its original roof survey, including a thermal infrared scan completed by RAMCON inspections, that located and defined six wet areas of insulation areas. Each subsequent year, up to three new wet areas were discovered until the last year, when the number jumped to six.

Each year all wet insulation was replaced and new roofing installed. The cost of this restoration process is a valid factor in selecting a maintenance approach. Wet areas averaged out to be about 30 sq. ft. The largest one identified was in 2004 at only 120 sq. ft. This means they were repaired while still small.

Based on the facility being approximately 220,000 sq. ft. and the program being provided over a seven-year period, the cost was only $0.04 per sq. ft. per year. Remember also that this program was started after the roofs exceeded 10 years of age. The earlier years are typically much less costly and would pull this average lower still.

This $0.04 per sq. ft. number is exactly the estimated cost Dennis Firman suggested based on his experience with more than 600 million sq. ft. of roofing with the U.S. Air Force. A review of five other clients conducting this type of aggressive maintenance program for at least five years also proved to be around this $0.03 number. It is accurate to say the cost of an aggressive maintenance program will fall between $0.03 and $0.04 per year, per sq. ft.

The Costly Alternative

Firman suggests the choice not to have maintenance program can cost an owner as much as $0.15 per sq. ft., per year. Based on this estimate, the owner would be losing $33,000 per year. If only a fraction of this amount is correct, the cost savings more than offset the most aggressive maintenance programs. At this point we decided to see what this facility would look like if only patching was done to stop leaks with minimum maintenance. Very conservative estimates were used to paint a best-case scenario for the owner. Included in the study were actual infrared photos of one wet area taken eight months apart. In that time, the area of wet insulation increased 20% or more. However, to be ultra-conservative, we charted linear dimensions of the wet areas to expand at a rate of only 5% per year. Of course, this comparison is unrealistic in evaluating the true cost to the client. If the wet insulation remains, the following are sure to happen:

  1. Thermal shock cycles will cause splits and accelerate the leaks and saturation of insulation. This takes place because the moisture is left in the insulation.
  2. Wet insulation does not insulate and will cost substantially more through wasted energy dollars. In our Florida environment, HVAC units cool the facilities almost consistently. Ask yourself: What effect would several hundred or thousand square feet of uninsulated roof area have on your monthly bill? It would not be pretty.
  3. Structural concerns arise due to water weight gain and corrosion of structural components. This adds remedial cost and becomes a potential safety issue.

The Owner’s Bottom Line

Now, let’s compare a best case scenario for the low maintenance approach versus a worst case for aggressive maintenance: low maintenance: $470,00 versus aggressive maintenance at $196, 500. The savings equal $273,500. There is also tens of thousands in energy savings, return on capital and more.
With a maintenance program spanning 13 years and square footage of about 220,000 square feet, the cost savings per square foot, per year is close to $0.10. This is based on making the aggressive program look as cost ineffective as possible. Firman’s conclusion of $0.15 is probably more realistic.

Assumptions play a huge role in this type of costing and are always subject to challenge. To effectively manage your roofing assets, you must be proactive. To what degree and at what cost are the questions. Try your own numbers with your own assumptions, or give us a call and we’ll run the numbers for you. You will likely find the aggressive approach will save you substantial time and money. It is conservatively accurate for us to tell our clients that their business decision not to employ an aggressive maintenance program is costing them between $0.10 and $0.15 per sq. ft. per year. Now, multiply this times the number of square feet you own or manage and show this bottom line as an annual loss. It’s a powerful argument to start your preventative maintenance program as quickly as possible…it works.

2012 Update: Just last year, the client in this survey initiated recovery roofing systems for all of their roofs. They were all past 24 years of age and never experienced more than a few minor leaks in any given year thanks to his aggressive MyRAMCON maintenance program. At the time of recover, no wet insulation was found and the metal deck remained structurally sound, eliminating the need for a costly tear off and replacement and allowing for a recovery roofing system at a substantially lower expense.