How Often Should You Inspect a Commercial Roof?

black flat roof

Why Do I Need a Roof Inspection?

Owning or managing a commercial building has a lot of responsibilities, among one of them is the roof. The roof protects this structure and all that is inside it, so this is an important part of the responsibilities, making sure it is in good condition. This why a roof inspection is so important and why we will answer some frequent questions about this process. 

Roofs are like windshield wipers on your car. You probably don’t think about checking them until it’s raining, and they aren’t working. However, if we have the windshield wipers inspected more frequently, we find they are always in good condition to clear the windows when it rains. 

The same is to be said about the roof of a commercial building. With a regularly scheduled roof inspection, you have an opportunity to catch small issues before they become expensive and large problems, and that extends the lifespan of the roof. 

When Should I Get a Roof Inspected?

Having windshield wipers inspected should take place every time the oil is changed.  The National Roofing Contractors Association recommends when to do roof inspection with a professional roofing contractor is twice a year: Just after winter and at the end of summer.

A monthly roof inspection is recommended by the building maintenance and owner, and after a hailstorm, heavy rains, high winds, after any type of significant weather event.

How Much Does a Roof Inspector Cost?

Roof inspection costs will vary from region to region and each building can vary due to the size of the building and access to the roof.  A commercial roof inspection can start around $200 and reach upwards of $1,000 or more.  

There are differences between a commercial roof inspection vs residential roof inspection, starting with the cost of the inspection and the time it takes to complete the roof inspection.  A roof inspection for commercial structures is more expensive than for residential roof inspection due mainly to the size and type of material. 

A residential roof is typically a steep-slope and often constructed with asphalt shingles, or other types of stylish roofing material to match the architectural design of the home. Commercial roofing, as well as industrial and institutional roofing, are typically flat and covered in various roof coatings designed for flat roofing. These differences are the reason for the cost and time of the roof inspection being different between commercial and residential roof inspection. 

Commercial roofing has more regulations and stipulations than residential roofing, like OSHA guidelines, city or state regulations, and industry standards for the type of business contained inside the building. There is special consideration because of additional weight from mechanical equipment that is frequently found on commercial rooftops. A commercial roof inspection requires specialized equipment and tools to perform the roof inspection and the details involved in a commercial roof are more complicated. 

How Often Should Your Roof Be Maintained?

A commercial roof needs regular roof inspection and roof maintenance to assure it is in top condition and providing the type of coverage and protection the building and its contents need. There is a lot at stake in a commercial building in addition to the employees, guests, and visitors. The equipment and inventory of a business can be valued into the millions.

The following are areas that should have specific attention during the inspection and if any part of it is amiss, call a professional commercial roofing contractor to do repairs or even replacement if needed. 

  • The Roof Coating: Check for and remove any debris and limbs; Check for loose or missing roofing materials on a regular basis, monthly is recommended, after a significant weather event, and after any contractor has had access to the roof like an electrician, HVAC, plumbing, satellite, telecommunications, etc. If there is bubbling, cracking, or peeling of the roof coating, have a professional commercial roof inspection and quotes for repairing or replacing the coating. 
  • The Drainage System: Inspect the drainage system on the roof each month, keeping it clean and clear of any blockages. Check around the drainage system for cracks and make repairs as needed. 
  • Perimeter Flashing: Check the roof flashing around the perimeter and refasten, repair, or replace any loose or missing flashing. This is especially important after high winds. Inspect the flashing around all roof-mounted equipment, the curbs, and any hatches, making sure all are secured in place with bolts or welding as designed. The flashing should be inspected after any type of weather event. 
  • The Skylights: Inspect skylights for any breaks, cracks, or leaks, and make sure they are secured around the curb. Any missing flashing, rusted metal, or rotting wood around the skylight should be replaced. 
  • Inspect HVAC units: Regular inspection for roof-mounted HVAC units includes making sure the metal panels and the unit itself is secure, flashing is in place and roof coating is in good condition. 
green bitumen roof

What is Considered Roof Damage?

Knowing how to do a roof inspection will show you that the following are signs of possible roof damage and the services of professional roofing contractor are needed: 

  • Blisters or Bubbles: Blistering or bubbling roof coating allows water to be trapped under the roof coating, causing the insulation to swell. When ignored, more severe problems can arise to underlying roof structure, exterior wall plaster damage, hidden and obvious leaks. 
  • Ceiling Sagging or Stained: Interior ceilings with stains can be indicator of slow leaks. Unaddressed, the leak will get worse, the ceiling will keep sagging until it crumbles.  
  • Mold Growth and Unusual Odors: Areas of the building that do not have constant activity, like a storage closet, that begins to have an odd odor or mold growing in corners are indicators of possible roof leak.
  • Clogged Roof Drains: The drainage on flat roofs is extremely important and if the drains are clogged, that water has to go somewhere. Any weak areas in the flashing or roof coating are prime area for that water to seep in and begin leaking through to the interior, causing structural damage along the way.
  • Water Ponding or Standing: Clogged drains on a flat roof will also result in water ponding and standing in place. Again, if there is any weak place in the roof coating, that water will find its way there and work into the building’s interior. 
  • Unintended Plant Growth: When flat roof drainage is insufficient, the ponding and standing water may harvest any seeds or plant droppings by bird and begin growing on the roofs. If the roof isn’t set up for a rooftop garden, this can become a problem and weaken the roof. 

We can’t stress the importance of roof inspection and roof maintenance enough. Your commercial building is valuable, and the people and contents are more valuable. Proper timing of inspections and keeping maintenance and repairs up to standards is important in protecting the roof so that it can protect the contents and people. Need commercial roof inspection? Call 214-471-6210 today.