Commercial Roof Inspection Checklist
With quality materials that are properly installed, a good commercial roof can last for many years. That said, it won’t last its entire life expectancy without help. It makes sense if you think about it: the roof that protects your building is constantly exposed to the elements. Heat, cold, wind, water, and debris can wreak havoc on even the best roofing systems. That’s why proper care, maintenance, and regular inspections are the keys to roof longevity because they allow you to identify and fix small problems before they become big ones.
While you should schedule a professional roof inspection for your building at least once a year, you can also conduct periodic checks on your own. If you know what to look for and what to do about it, you can help keep your own roof in good condition throughout the year. The following commercial roof inspection checklist will help you identify problems, and decide what you can handle yourself, and when it’s time to call in the pros.
Check for Debris
Over time, leaves, branches, trash, and other debris can collect on the roof and in your water gutters and prevent proper water drainage. Fortunately, debris is also the easiest thing to spot and take care of. Look over the roof surface, particularly at the corners and the gutters where debris can collect, and remove any debris you find. Additionally, if the roof surface looks dirty or muddy, it may be time to do a low-pressure wash to clean it off.
Check for Signs of Ponding Water
Ponding water is an enemy of any roofing system because it invites deterioration and leaks. Even if the roof is dry, you can often observe signs that tell you water has been collecting on the roof — such as damp, dark, or stained areas or patches where mold and algae are growing. If you see water ponding evidence, it may be time to schedule a professional inspection to look at drainage issues and repair any damage before leaks occur.
Check the Roof Field Itself
Walk (carefully) over the surface of the roof and take a close look at the total roof surface area, excluding the flashing and edges for now. You’re specifically looking for signs of punctures and tears in the membrane, as well as signs of separation at the seams, all of which can allow water to leak into the roof deck and cause structural damage. If you see any tears, punctures, or separations, contact a roofing professional to schedule repairs. Likewise, if you’re observing signs of leaks inside the building and can’t pinpoint the source, a roofing professional can run tests to find the problem area and fix it.
Check the Flashing and Edges
The roof flashing is the metallic material placed around roof features and protrusions (e.g., chimneys, vents, skylights, and crevices) to keep water from seeping or collecting in these areas. If you see signs of rust, separation, or loose flashing, these could lead to more serious leak problems, and you should schedule to have them repaired or replaced. Likewise, look (if you’re able) at the perimeter of the roof to make sure the edges are sealed down. High winds can sometimes dislodge the edges, which will need to be repaired.
Check Gutters, Drains, and Downspouts
Lastly, have a look at any gutter system that is installed to allow for water runoff. Clear any visible debris, run water into the gutters, observe the drains and downspouts, and make sure the water runs through unhindered. If the water is slow to drain, you may have clogs in the gutter system that need to be cleared out.
When in Doubt, Call the Professionals
If you observe anything about the roof that makes you feel uncertain, or you don’t know whether or not a problem exists, there’s no harm in scheduling a professional roof inspection to make sure everything is in order. Always err on the side of caution. Being proactive with your commercial roof system’s care and maintenance will help ensure small problems are caught and fixed before they become big ones. Remember, any repair will likely cost less than a total roof replacement!