A building’s roof serves as the first line of defense against whatever the skies throw at its inhabitants – wind, rain and blazing sun, even snow and ice in some climates – so, it’s crucial for that roof to be sound and well maintained. All it takes is one small crack or hole for water to seep in, compromising the entire roof.
According to James R. Kirby, AIA, the director of technical services for the national Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA), the most common types of roofs in dense urban areas are ‘low-slope’ or flat roofs. “The roof types include asphalt-based roof systems, called built-up and modified bitumen, and single-ply roof systems,” he says.
So, in-depth roof inspections should be done by a qualified specialist. There are some roof problems that can be handled by a building staff manager: “The maintenance is going to depend on the warranty, but the only one who should be working on the roof is someone who is certified to work on that system,” says Baker. “If you go up and are not a roofer, you can end up using tools or materials that aren’t compatible with the system you have. That can lead to additional costs, and even catastrophic failure.”
“They should regularly examine masonry and metal work for signs of deterioration or water infiltration,” says Kirby. “Another way to maintain a roof is to make sure that rooftop equipment is in proper working condition and, where necessary, piped to drainage. Lastly, minimizing unnecessary foot traffic on the roof will help avoid potential damage. That means keeping access doors locked, and requiring any rooftop visitors and workers to sign in or be escorted.”
“Roofs are not indestructible, and should be treated with respect,” says Kirby. “Appropriately constructed roof decks, and the use of walkway pads and protection layers are necessary if residents expect to use a roof and for that roof to last. The best advice is to stay off the roof; reduce foot traffic; don’t use a roof as a work or play platform.”