Maintaining a roof is much like maintaining a car. If you purchase a car and never bring it to an auto shop for an oil change or to fix the brakes, it’s bound to fail. But if you make an effort to have it checked regularly, its life expectancy will lengthen and it will be far more reliable.
Likewise, the more effort an owner puts into maintaining a roof, the longer it will last and the better it will serve to keep water on the outside of your building. A typical roof on a large commercial or industrial building will likely last for 18 years if little to no routine maintenance is done. However, if the owner has the roof inspected regularly and makes necessary repairs, such as fixing damage or reflashing open voids, a roof could last for 20 to 25 years – or maybe even longer.
Not enough building owners realize this and many are hesitant to invest money to maintain a roof if it’s relatively new. However, in most cases, spending money to maintain a roof is a necessary step in protecting an investment. The costs associated with maintaining a roof every few years will often be considerably less than having to build a new roof altogether every 18 years or so.
To further illustrate the point, let’s use an example. Say you’ve recently had a 100,000-square-foot roof built and the manufacturer says it has a life expectancy of 20 years, providing it’s maintained regularly. If the cost to install it was $3 per square foot, the total cost is $300,000. That works out to $15,000 per year. But if the roof is not maintained and only lasts half its design life (10 years) the investment then works out to $30,000 per year. So even if the roof owners spends, on average, $2,000 to $3,000 per year to maintain a roof, they’re still saving significant money from not having to pay for a new roof prematurely.
There are many factors that can play into how much repair work a roof needs. Debris from overhanging trees, puncture wounds from roof traffic and ponding water due to air conditioner condensation can all lead to issues that need routine maintenance, just to cite a few examples. Every roof is different and is subject to different risks. But building owners must accept that all roofs are subject to some sort of wear and tear and should be upgrading regularly. Anyone who avoids doing this is passing up the chance to reduce their long term cost of ownership as well as improve the short term function (less leaks) of their commercial roof.