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Loss Control Insights for Schools

A Guide to Pre-Winter Roof Inspections

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As winter approaches, it’s important to make time for a full roof inspection at all your school buildings. Preventative roof maintenance is vital year-round, but fall maintenance can help your roof withstand the effects of harsh winter weather. Below are some tips on how to develop a strong roof management program.

Conduct Regular Inspections

Designate maintenance personnel to conduct roof inspections every six months. To ensure a thorough inspection is conducted, prepare a maintenance checklist unique to your building. Regular inspections will allow you to address any issues, saving you money in the long run.

The employee conducting the inspection should identify any problems and recommend repairs to management. To better equip employees who perform these inspections, consider sending them to a roof system seminar or training course.

The following are important areas or issues to check:

  • Surface Damage—Sun, winds and rains can weaken the surface of your roof. Additionally, snow from last winter and other heavy equipment can crack the structure; look for signs of roof membrane damage such as fading, stretching or thinning that might produce a leak
  • Debris—Trash, debris or plants on the roof can prevent water from draining properly, so clear any unnecessary items from the roof
  • Drainage Issues—Look for areas of pooled water that can indicate gutter, scupper or drain problems
  • Flashing—Check for gaps around flashings; issues with flashing can cause mold growth or leaks
  • Rooftop Units and Equipment—Inspect HVAC units, hatches, stacks and skylights to ensure the seams are watertight
  • Interior—Look inside the building for signs of water damage, as that can signal a roof leak
  • Stairs—Ensure the path to the roof is free of hazards and is structurally sound, and that all walkways on the roof are steady and undamaged
  • For more information on what to look for, click here

Post-Storm Inspections

It’s also important to inspect your roof for damage after a severe windstorm, hurricane, heavy rainstorm or hail. Even if the roof survived the storm, subtle damage may weaken the roof enough to cause issues during the next storm. If you work in a hurricane prone area, you might want to consider installing a roof coating system designed to repair, waterproof and protect commonly used commercial roofing substrates.

Monitor Foot Traffic

A good way to prevent damage to your roof is to monitor and control foot traffic. Keep roof hatches locked to prevent unauthorized people from accessing the roof. Install walkway pads in high-traffic areas to protect the surface. Window washers and other service providers might have to use the roof, so check its condition regularly to ensure their equipment has not caused any damage or caused a leak.

Hire a Professional Contractor

If you find areas of your roof that need repair, it’s time to hire a roofing contractor. Choose an experienced and highly qualified roofing contractor, placing a higher value on factors such as quality of work and safety practices rather than cost. While it might seem like a lot of money at the time, immediately addressing the problem prevents it from worsening and costing much more money down the road.

The contractor can also help to determine the health of the roof, estimate the remaining life of the roof and help you develop a maintenance plan to protect the roof.

Keep Updated Records

Get in the habit of maintaining an updated file of all roof repairs and walk-through reports. Store any installation and warranty information you have in that file and keep it on-site so maintenance staff can access it. Keep records of all inspections in the file.

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