Extending the Life of Your Metal Roof
Studies show that a properly installed and maintained metal roof system has a service life of 60 years or more. A preventative maintenance program is a key factor in maximizing the life expectancy and dependability of your roof system. Periodic inspections should begin as soon as your building is complete and continue throughout its service life.
Roof Repair or Maintenance Safety
Whenever you perform maintenance on your roof system, safety must be the primary concern. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires fall protection and personal protection equipment (PPE) for all maintenance personnel, and your state and local regulations may impose additional safety requirements. Failure to follow these laws can result in serious injury and substantial fines.
A completed metal roof is a safe walking surface except near the edge of the roof and when any moisture (dew, frost, snow, ice, etc.) makes the surface of the roof very slippery. Steep slopes can also make the roof tough to navigate without proper safety equipment. Appropriate safety measures and extra caution should be exercised whenever these conditions are present. When performing building maintenance, the following precautions should always be taken:
- Always use fall protection
- Do not walk on skylights
- Do not walk on wet roof panels
- Do not walk, step or sit on skylights or the ridge cap
- Do not walk in gutters
- Guard all roof openings and skylights
Metal roof systems should be inspected semi-annually. In addition to scheduled inspections, roof inspections should be conducted after the following events:
- Exposure of the roof to severe weather conditions, such as strong winds, hail or continuous heavy rain. Examine the roof for severely ponded conditions, debris, and any other damage to the roof components that may allow moisture to infiltrate. The roof panels should be carefully examined for punctures or loose fasteners.
- After repair or replacement of rooftop equipment, rooftop work by other trades and after any excessive foot traffic.
Foot traffic should be kept to a minimum. Where frequent or heavy traffic is anticipated, you should install a roof service way to protect the roof. This is necessary where regular servicing of rooftop mechanical equipment is required.
Roof Damage from Equipment Drainage
Corrosive conditions can occur when water from air conditioner condensate lines, copper flashing, lead and other heavy metals is drained directly onto aluminum, aluminum-coated steel, and/or aluminum-zinc alloy coated steel roofs.
Common causes of the damage include:
- Copper in direct contact with roof
- Drainage from copper onto the roof
- Condensate drainage from air conditioners
- Copper cable from lightning rods
- Rust particles
- Lead flashing on vent pipes
- Black steel from gas pipes or RTU supports
If any of these conditions occur on the roof, special coatings may be required on adjacent panels to maintain the life of the roof.
Restore Sealants Around Roof Openings
Sealants around roof openings for mechanical equipment, vents, and flexible pipe flashings are
particularly susceptible to deterioration from weathering. These areas should be inspected frequently and resealed as needed.
Ice and Snow On Your Roof
Excessive ice and snow build-up should be removed from the roof immediately to prevent damage from the freeze/thaw cycles and possible overload. Heavy and/or repeated snow storms can create packed snow that imposes unusual and excessive loads on any building structures.
It’s important to keep drains and gutters clear of ice and snow to facilitate melting runoff. Heat tapes in gutters and downspouts may assist in preventing ice buildup.
Every situation is different, so careful planning is necessary before snow removal can begin. It is
important to remove the snow in a pattern that will not cause an unbalanced load condition on the roof that could lead to a damaged roof or a roof collapse. Also, sliding snow and ice can create a safety hazard for both personnel and equipment.
GALBRAITH/Pre-Design, Inc. is a commercial general contractor with extensive experience providing building maintenance services for hospital and medical facilities. Several members of our team have the Certified Healthcare Constructor (CHC) and Infection Risk Assessment (ICRA) certificates. For industrial and plant maintenance, the GALBRAITH team holds Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) and Safe Quality Foods (SQF) certification.
GALBRAITH/Pre-Design, Inc. is an authorized Butler Builder. With decades of experience in successfully completing design-build projects in Pennsylvania and surrounding states, GALBRAITH is your single-source solution for commercial, industrial, and institutional construction projects throughout the Mid-Atlantic.
For more information on the Butler MR-24® Roof System, visit www.gp-inc.com.
As co-owner of Galbraith/Pre-Design, Inc., Mark Galbraith is responsible for the construction of commercial facilities in nine states. Continuing his family’s tradition of commercial and industrial construction in south central Pennsylvania and beyond, Mark’s experience includes site analysis and selection, pre-construction services, field engineering and project management.