Correct Roof Repairing
In a time of economic uncertainty, replacing a roof is not always a viable option, regardless of the number of leaks, because the money is just not there. Still, water intrusion must be stopped and the interior of the building must be protected. Repairing the roof becomes an attractive alternative to re-covering or replacing the existing system. But there are some things to think about before trying to repair the roof. One approach that is often taken is to call a roofing contractor like Santa Rosa Beach roofers to fix the leaks. Certainly it is advisable to use a competent roofing contractor to repair problems properly. But unless you give the contractor some direction as to what you want done and how, you are relying on the roofers to do whatever they think best, which may not coincide with your plans for the building.
Sometimes, repairs are just not enough or may be the wrong approach entirely,. That’s the other problem.The first step should be to find out what you’ve got.
The warranty will tell you who the manufacturer is and what kind of roof system is installed if you have a warranty. Your contractor or a roof consultant can help you identify the materials if you don’t have a warranty or you can’t find it and you do not already know what kind of roof you have. Core cuts should also be done to determine the condition of the roof membrane itself and the construction under the roof membrane, including insulation type,thickness and attachment, deck type and attachment, and a snapshot of whether the roofing materials are damp.A roof consulting architect or engineer can then tell you what can be repaired, and then give a professional opinion of what the construction costs will probably be – both for the repairs and the cost to replace it.
If left untreated, the consultant can find problems that may seem small but can become major leaks.It is essential to ensure that leaks are really coming from the roof. Not all leaks come from the roof membrane. They can be a result of problems with parapet
windows and walls, rooftop mechanical units, plumbing or other sources that disguise themselves as roof leaks. Once these have all been eliminated as the source of leaks, walk the rest of the roof to look for possible membrane leak locations. In general, most leaks occur at penetration and base flashings rather than the field of the roof. Look for blisters, cracks and scrapes punctures or cuts in the membrane. Check seams to be sure they are adhered and watertight. Check for erosion of the membrane, especially around drains and downspouts. If the roof can’t be repaired, once the probable leak locations are identified, you can proceed to the next step, which is determining what problems can be solved by repairs, what repairs are needed, how the repairs should be conducted and what should be done.DIY or Contract Out?
The best source of generic information on how a roof membrane should be properly repaired comes from the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) Repair Manual.
Also provides photographs that illustrate the text, though this book not only provides step-by-step instructions on how to do the repairs properly. The manual has drawing details of how flashings should have been installed to begin with and how the repairs should look when they are done.The question then becomes, who should do the repairs? Can you do it in-house to save money?
If the roof is still under warranty, a contractor who is an authorized applicator for the roof system should definitely be the one to do it. Generally speaking, you are more likely to have proper repairs done if you use a contractor who is familiar with the type of roofing system that you have. Any modified bitumen repairs requiring torching and heat-welded PVC and TPO patches are best left to professional contractors who have the training and equipment to work with these membranes. If the problem is simple, such as refilling a pitch pan or a temporary patch, it can be done in-house. However, if this route is chosen to save money, be aware that there are pitfalls.Too often, with roofs, repair means someone looks for a cut or
smears and puncture roofing cement on it. It is never a long-term repair, even though this may be fine for an emergency situation where the only goal is to stop a leak immediately. Roofing cement soon shrinks, cracks, and becomes brittle when exposed to ultraviolet radiation from the sun. If you are looking for a long-term patch, do not use roofing cement, especially on any metal details or PVC, TPO, or EPDM single-ply membranes. Roofing cement is not capable of withstanding the thermal expansion and contraction of the metal and will soon fail. PVC, EPDM and TPO are chemically incompatible and the roofing cement will actually damage them more.Be sure that whatever membrane is used for the repairs is compatible with the existing roof material and suitable for the long-term repair. In general, asphalt-based roofing (modified bitumen membranes and traditional built-up roofs) can use almost any asphalt-based membrane. Not so with
EPDM, TPO and PVC. These membranes must be matched with the existing material. PVC must be used on PVC, TPO with TPO, and so on.
If you are doing patches in-house, you may be tempted to use a peel-and-stick membrane for the repairs. Be careful, even though when properly used these membranes can provide a tough, long-lasting repair. Some peel and stick repair materials are asphalt-based and, like roofing cement, are not compatible with non-asphalt-based materials. Some non-asphalt-based stick and peel repair membranes will not stick to asphalt-based roofing. Some stick and peel membranes are intended only for use as underlayments under metal, tile or shingle roofs and are not intended to remain exposed to sunlight. If not covered within their limited exposure time, these materials will begin to deteriorate rapidly.EPDM membranes and thermoplastic membranes such as PVC or TPO are not interchangeable and repair materials for one are not appropriate for the other because the techniques for attaching patches are not the same.
Some problems will never be cured with patching. The most common of these is expansion-joint terminations.
If the original expansion joint installation stopped at the building walls and is not continuous with the rest of the building expansion joint, the ends will always crack and leak due to movement in the building.Age-related splits in any type of membrane, whether asphalt-based, PVC, TPO, EPDM or other formulation, will simply continue to open at the ends of a patch and you will chase the split until it reaches the walls. When an EPDM roof begins to erode due to age (you will find a thick cover of black powder on the roof) you can’t reverse it by patching it.
When this begins to happen, coating it may extend the service life, but be sure the coating you choose has been developed specifically for coating EPDM. Not all coatings are the same.When Repairs Aren’t Enough and the Roof Needs Replacing or Recovering
So when do you stop patching and start planning to replace the roof? Obviously one good hint is when, no matter how many times you call the roofer out, the roof still leaks. Before it has to be replaced, an aging roof can only be repaired for so long. Once the roof becomes brittle and starts to split, there is no patch that will permanently cure it. In that case, a better strategy is to perform emergency repairs as they are needed instead of wasting whatever roofing money is available trying to save a failed roof.Waiting too long can result in an unsafe condition in the building and an extremely high cost to fix the roof. One warehouse had repairs done to the roof for about five years because the building was unoccupied and the owner did not want to spend the money to replace the roof. Unfortunately, the leaks were so pervasive that the steel deck rusted through underneath the roof.
So, while at one time a relatively inexpensive re-cover would have been an option, now the owner needed a complete tear off and, worse, a total replacement of the steel deck to make the building safe again. Correcting this mistake will cost about four times what the re-cover would have been five years ago. To make matters worse, the building is now occupied and replacing the deck may lead to terrible complications with the tenant.
You can take their opinions of probable construction costs and determine if it is time to replace or re-cover if you have a consulting architect or engineer survey the roof to begin with. Take the probable cost to replace the roof and divide it by the number of years you would like the new roof to last (10 for a basic roof with standard grade materials, 20 for a well-designed, well-installed roof using good materials). Don’t waste your money if this number is close to or less than the cost of the repairs. It’s time to replace the roof. Your consultant can help you plan the best option for rereplacing and covering, applying a coating or continuing to repair and hope for the best.
If they are done promptly and according to good roofing practice, long-term repairs can stretch the life of the roof. Ignoring the roof will not make your problems go away – they will just get more and bigger expensive to fix. Repairs should be done in conjunction with a well-managed plan for roof maintenance and inspection to be sure the repairs catch little problems that if left alone will cause the roof to fail sooner. Remember, all roofs will need replacement eventually. Knowing when that will be is the last step in the repair sequence. If you do not feel comfortable predicting the demise yourself, a qualified consulting architect or engineer can help steer you in the proper direction by providing regular inspections, moisture surveys, and specifications and plans for repairs, re-covers, maintenance replacements and coatings.