Preventive Maintenance Programs
Most building owners and managers pay little attention to their roof until it is too late. There are few opportunities to save money once there are leaks or the roof needs to be replaced. The high cost of emergency repairs and premature replacement can be avoided by instituting a roofing preventive maintenance program.
The replacement value of the typical building roof is between five and seven dollars per square foot. When considering the replacement value plus the value of the other building components and contents that the roof protects, it is simply too large of an investment to ignore.
If properly maintained, a well designed and installed roof will last in excess of twenty-five years. There is some evidence that, under the right conditions, a roof may last almost indefinitely. The average roof in the United States, however, last less than ten years. While poor design and improper installation play an important part in these poor performance figures, the lack of preventive maintenance is the largest single factor leading to premature failure.
A roof begins to age, due to stresses and weather, as soon as it is installed. This aging, frequently, goes unnoticed. It is assumed that the roof is performing as intended until it leaks. Once leaks occur, damage has already been done to the roof and perhaps to other building components and contents, as well.
The expected service life of your roof can be substantially increased if it receives preventive maintenance. The expected service life of most single ply roofs can be increased by as much as 50 percent. The service life of built-up roofs and some modified bitumen roofs can be increased by 100 percent or more with a proper preventive maintenance program. The annual cost of a good roofing preventive maintenance program is usually between one and two percent of the replacement value. Investing one to two percent of the replacement cost per year, in order to increase the expected service life by 50 to 100 percent, is sound fiscal management.
Left unattended, the frequency and cost of emergency roof repairs will increase as time goes on. As the roof approaches the end of its expected service life these cost can become quite excessive. A good preventive maintenance program will reduce both the frequency and cost of emergency repairs. Eventually, the cost of the preventive maintenance program will be less than the cost of emergency repairs if the roof had been left unattended. This means that the preventive maintenance program and its benefits; 50 to 100% longer life, less leaks and emergency repairs, less building damage, are virtually free.
In order for a preventive maintenance program to be effective it must have four essential parts; the initial audit inspection, timely performance of required maintenance tasks, follow-up inspections and record keeping. These parts must be well thought out and meticulously followed if the benefits of the program are to be fully realized.
Audit Survey - The audit survey is a detailed inspection of all components of the roofing system and other related or connected building components. The audit survey must include all components of the roofing system such as deck, insulation, membrane, flashings, counter-flashings, penetrations, and drains. Additionally, it must include other building systems such as the roof structural system, the building walls, the ceiling below and any other building component that is related or connected to the roof. The purpose of the audit survey is to identify any condition that may be the result of or lead to roofing damage. A cursory inspection will not be a sufficient substitute for the audit inspection. The audit inspector must be well trained and experienced in order to observe and note subtle defects or conditions that may lead to damage. When the audit survey is complete you should know every detail there is to know about your roofing system. This is the most important part of the preventive maintenance program because everything else is based on the information arrived at through the audit survey. This part of the program is probably best performed by an outside, trained expert.
Timely Performance of Maintenance - The key to keeping maintenance repair costs at a minimum is to perform required tasks as soon as possible. Once the inspection is complete and defects have been identified, repairs should be completed. If defects are left unattended they will continue to grow worse resulting in higher cost and possible damage to adjoining areas. Depending on the nature of the defects and skills of the available personnel, this work can be accomplished in house or by an outside contractor.
Follow-up Inspections - The roof should be thoroughly inspected at least two times per year. Follow-up inspections should be scheduled once every six months. Other inspections should be done after severe weather, or when there has been foot traffic or other conditions that may cause damage. The follow-up inspection should include a re-inspection of all recent maintenance and emergency repairs. Particular attention should be paid to changes in condition that have occurred between inspections.
Record Keeping - Record keeping begins with organizing the information gathered during the audit survey. This information should include original construction data such as date of installation, original installer, materials used, and type of warranty. It should also include dimensions, penetrations, observed defects, and other notable features, observed during the audit survey. The information should be recorded on a roofing audit inspection form and on a small scale drawing of the roof. This information is then updated and added to after maintenance tasks have been completed and after each follow-up inspection.
Changing from a reactive type of maintenance, where you simply react to leaks or other roof problems, to a preventive maintenance mode of operating requires a significant commitment by management. The appearance of initial cost of implementing the program is frequently the largest stumbling block. The lack of trained or adequately skilled personnel can also make starting a roofing preventive maintenance program impractical. When one considers the financial savings possible and the fact that it cost no more than reactive maintenance, the question must be "can I afford to NOT implement a preventive maintenance program?" RC Lichy & Associates have developed seminars and other services available to help you answer this and any other questions you may have.
Contact RC Lichy & Associates today to schedule your initial audit inspection so you can start enjoying the cost benefits of an effective Preventive Maintenance Program.
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What is Benchmarking?
The Webster's New World Dictionary, Second College Edition defines a benchmark as:
A surveyor's mark... a standard or point of reference in measuring or judging quality, value, etc.
David T. Kearns, chief executive officer, Xerox Corporation, where benchmarking was first developed said:
Benchmarking is a continuous process of measuring product, services, and practices against the toughest competitors or those companies recognized as industry leaders.
A working definition of benchmarking as it relates to you and your roofing practices is:
The process whereby an organization compares their own roofing management practices against those organizations that are known to have the best roofing management practices so that they can become the "best of the best".