Magazine article Journal of Property Management

On the Rooftop: Maintain Your Building Roof with Regular Inspections and Maintenance

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

On the Rooftop: Maintain Your Building Roof with Regular Inspections and Maintenance

Article excerpt

WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU WERE ON THE ROOF OF ONE OF YOUR BUILDINGS? DO YOU THINK YOU COULD INVITE PEOPLE UP THERE AND HAVE A PICNIC? Or would your party have to dodge bottles, cans and trash, along with abandoned equipment, nails, tools and other hazards?


The roof is often the most ignored and forgotten property component. But unfortunately, it is one of the most expensive items to replace. Routine, annual inspections are critical to mitigating damage. Some roof manufacturers suggest scheduling at least two inspections a year--one in the spring and one in the fall. But at minimum, a qualified roofing contractor should be called in once a year.


This inspection should cover the entire roof-flashings, sheet metal and drainage components. Look for leaking or missing condensation lines, as well as loose or missing equipment access panels that can blow off, puncture the roof and causes leaks or discharges. Also check for improperly installed equipment, antennas or satellite dishes; and inspect the roof for any other types of penetrations.

Be sure tenants are maintaining roof top grease guards, too. These should be cleaned routinely. Most grease guard manufacturers highly recommend quarterly cleanings at least.

The annual inspection should involve clearing debris from all gutters and downspouts, roof drain strainers and overflow outlets. The removal of small debris from the entire field of the roof should also be part of this inspection. An especially good roofing contractor will run a large magnet around all rooftop equipment, picking up any loose screws, wire and other small, sharp debris.

Schedule and complete an annual cleaning if the above items are not included in your roofing contractor's annual inspection. A thorough cleaning, performed at least annually, will more than pay for itself. By cleaning your roof annually, you should save at least one leak repair expense per year. Failure to take this step can quickly shorten the life of any roof.

Following the roof inspection, get a detailed inspection report from your roofing contractor, including an overall assessment and report of all roof conditions. Obtain photographs of any conditions requiring maintenance or immediate repair. An estimate of the roof's remaining service life, and a separate description and cost breakdown by tenant of all tenant-related repair items should also accompany the report.

If your roof has less than five years of remaining life, your roofing contractor may also pro-vide you with replacement cost estimates. This will help you prepare ownership well in advance of the looming replacement.


Without inspections and regular roof maintenance, expect to experience a variety of problems caused by weather, foot traffic and neglect. Uncleared debris can clog roof drains and drain pipes or cause punctures. Clogged drains can lead to ponding water, which can cause any number of issues and will definitely accelerate a roof's deterioration. Additionally, vegetation can grow in water. If that vegetation keeps growing, it will grow into the roof membrane and cause leaks.

If HVAC units continually drop their condensate onto the roof instead of into a pitch pan and down into the plumbing system, this can also lead to ponding. Small dripping issues will most certainly become larger with time. Water is heavy and the weight could easily climb over your roof's load rate, causing it to collapse. …

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