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The Importance of Routine Maintenance on Single-ply Roofing Systems

Published: 09/24/2020

Damaged flat roof

Many retail, hospitality, commercial and industrial structures rely on single-ply roofing to keep the assets inside safe from water, mold and pests. As a store, medical office or restaurant owner, you would be dismayed to arrive to find your costly goods and equipment destroyed due to a failed roofing system. This is a major factor in why you should have a regular inspection and maintenance schedule in place for your single-ply roof.

Single-ply roofing can come in a variety of materials: EPDM, TPO, modified bitumen and PVC, all of which are long-lasting, durable and easy to maintain. While these roofs are touted as being “virtually maintenance-free” it is important to remember that while required maintenance is minimal, it still must be done regularly to avoid costly repairs in the future.

Proper maintenance of a single-ply roofing system is crucial to keep the roof in good condition, catch possible problems before they get serious and increase the roof’s overall longevity.

Caring for your roof begins by taking basic precautions against damage. This can include making sure that no sharp objects are nearby, the roof is not being utilized as a storage area, and cleaning is gentle and regularly performed.

How to Clean Your Single-ply Roof

While single-ply roofs are designed to resist dirt and debris buildup, they are not completely invulnerable to objects landing on them. The first thing you should do is do a quick visual check to ensure that there are no objects present that could potentially tear the roofing. Clean water, gentle, non-toxic detergent and a soft brush can be used to clean the roof if necessary, followed by a gentle rinse with clean water. Never pressure wash your roof, as the force of the pressurized water is almost sure to damage the roofing.

*While roof cleaning should always be performed by a licensed roofer, should you decide to take on the task yourself, make sure you educate yourself on the possible repercussions and the proper practices and precautions.

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Semi-annual Roof Inspections

The roof system should be inspected at least twice per year - spring and fall, ideally, as the weather tends to be milder no matter what region the building resides. It’s also important to have your roof inspected after a rather extreme weather occurrence such as a hurricane or heavy thunderstorm to ensure that any sustained damage can be immediately repaired and further damage can be prevented.

Comprehensive roof inspections should always be performed by a licensed professional roofer. Some of the things a roofer checks for include:

  • Algal growth
  • Damaged or separated seams
  • Standing or pooling water
  • Punctures, cracks or tears in the membrane
  • Dirt or debris buildup
  • Roof drainage blockage
  • Damaged flashing
  • Damage to walkway membrane or paving slab
  • Waterproofing efficacy of the sealants

If any damage has been incurred to the roofing membrane, a professional roofer can quickly and effectively perform repairs to the damage portion, provided the damage is not extensive.

Any work done by someone other than a licensed roofing contractor can void or invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty, and an experienced roofer can perform the inspection and repairs safely and proficiently.

Pooling water on flat roof

Five Reasons for Single-ply Roofing Failure

While single-ply roofing generally performs exceptionally well, some factors can compromise the integrity and affect the overall quality of the roof. They include:

  • Improper installation
  • Poor design
  • Defective or low-quality materials
  • Lack of regular maintenance
  • Outright abuse

Of these factors, the one that contributes the most to roof system failure is lack of regular maintenance. AKVM cares about your home and business and will always use the proper tools and equipment, the highest quality materials and the superb workmanship that we’ve become known for in the Sarasota-Bradenton area. Whether or not we installed your current single-ply roof, we can work with you to create a schedule for regular inspections and maintenance so that your roof lasts as long as possible.

Stress cracked roof

What Stops Building Owners from Implementing a Maintenance Schedule?

Although it’s clear that a maintenance program is generally a cost-effective way to keep the roof performing as it should, some building owners still fail to implement such a plan. Why? There are three main reasons for this oversight:

  • Reliance on warranties: Most single-ply roofs come with an excellent manufacturer’s warranty up to 15 or even 20 years, and these warranties have become the crutch that some building owners think they can rely on when something goes wrong. The problem is that a lack of proper maintenance can invalidate the manufacturer’s warranty, leaving the building owner to shoulder the expense of an entire new roof and replacement of any parts of the structure or goods inside that have been damaged or destroyed.
  • Priorities: With all of the responsibilities that a building owner has, it’s easy to forget about maintaining the roof until it springs a leak, mold is discovered or other visible damage is incurred. To avoid this potentially costly blunder, it’s easy to call us and set up a regular maintenance and inspection schedule that you don’t have to worry about remembering.
  • Inexperience: Some building owners assume that they can save money by inspecting the roof themselves. In truth, only licensed, professional roofing contractors are qualified to properly inspect and repair your roof. They’re trained extensively to spot certain clues and signs of damage that the untrained eye will most certainly overlook.

Overall, implementing a maintenance plan is likely to save you a lot of money and anguish by allowing you to have small issues quickly repaired rather than letting them get too profound to repair.

AKVM offers a full range of commercial roofing services, including inspections, repairs and replacements. We are committed to protecting your investment, saving you money and keeping you safe from roofing-related hazards. Call us today to schedule a free in-person or contactless roof inspection. We’ll provide our recommendations for your best course of action and ensure that you have all of the information necessary to make an informed decision.

Undamaged roof