When should you replace your commercial roof system?

by Jayne Williams

To determine whether to replace your commercial roof system, ask a commercial roofing contractor to assess the existing roof system. He or she will inspect the roof for damage and discuss with you the age of the roof, the building's use, climate concerns, the building's financial expectations, budget, building code, energy requirements and possible replacement needs.

A good assessment will include information about:
  • Water infiltration
  • Damage to the interior and exterior
  • Roof membrane movement, damage, condition or uplift
  • Deck and structure issues
  • Existing warranty and possible benefits or contribution from the manufacturer
  • Options for the best price and best value
If there is water infiltration, previous leak concerns should be discussed, and the roof will be inspected for evidence of moisture trapped in the roof system and building. The membrane may appear to be in good condition on the surface, but moisture may be present below the roof membrane. Core samples of the roof in several areas should be taken to determine the current roof system installed. This also will provide the contractor with information regarding how many roof systems or layers are in place. Excessive moisture in insulation is a sure sign a roof system needs to be replaced. The contractor also should look for damage to the interior (bad ceiling tiles, water marks, etc.) and exterior (holes, punctures, etc.) by other trades (HVAC, foot traffic, etc.).

The overall visual condition of the roof membrane should be examined, as well as whether it is pliable or shows signs of uplift from severe winds. This should include corners, parapets and seams. Many buildings are required to have a specific uplift factor defined by local building codes, and the contractor should discuss these requirements. He or she may perform a wind-uplift test.

Another factor to consider is the roof deck. If significant damage to the deck is found, you will have no choice but to repair or replace the deck when you tear off and reroof. Prolonged and repetitive moisture accumulation in roof assemblies and decks also can cause mold issues. An HVAC contractor should test the airflow of your system to examine its effect on the roof deck.

Finally, a contractor should discuss any existing warranty you have and help you define the best solution for a new warranty for the replacement roof.

A contractor should provide you with the company's safety records (experience modification rate and Occupational Safety and Health Administration reports), testimonials and history of working with such roof systems. Using a trusted commercial roofing contractor should provide you with the tools and information necessary to make your decision regarding your commercial roof replacement.

Jayne Williams is chief financial officer and safety director for KPost Company, Dallas.

Date : 9/2/2015