Your commercial roof warranty is a financial asset. If something goes wrong with your roof, it’s probably better to have someone else pay for it! That’s why you have the warranty.
Like any other contract, your warranty has terms and you have obligations under those terms. Sometimes you can inadvertently void parts of your warranty. Here are four of the most common ways to be held responsible for roofing problems that may have otherwise been covered by your warranty:
1. Unauthorized modifications to your roof
Certain types of construction can really damage your roofing system.
For example, if your tenants added mechanical equipment that penetrates the roof structure — such as adding additional air conditioning capacity, ventilation for new machinery or items related to renovations, especially bathrooms — your roofing system may have been compromised. Elements that go through the system need to be properly installed by professionals who are trained in proper flashing techniques. If your tenants hired their own contractors or did the work themselves, chances are the installers were not sufficiently trained. As a result, your property could end up with one or more leaks that are not covered by your warranty.
And the longer a leak goes unreported and unresolved, the more damage it causes. Concrete roof decks <link to concrete roof blog post> can be especially tricky because they can mask a leak for a long time.
The key to preventing leaks caused by unauthorized modifications is to have an inspection at least annually, which is usually required by most warranties. Maintenance programs include reporting any modifications and helping you take the next step in dealing with any problems.
2. Authorized modifications or services that were completed carelessly
Just as most contractors aren’t trained in proper flashing techniques, most aren’t trained to be aware of how their activities can impact roofing systems either.
If your building has a low-sloped roof, chances are it has rooftop air conditioning units that are regularly serviced by authorized technicians. This means that service technicians can inadvertently drop tools, step on screws or spill chemicals as they go about their work. Or they can leave old equipment on your roof, like chunks of metal and old parts that they don’t want to haul down the ladder. It’s also common to find an old compressor sitting right there next to the new one!
Another issue that comes up often is contractors who think that applying a bead of silicone around roof penetrations will keep the water out. It doesn’t work for long, even if the bead is super thick.
Any of these things has the potential to cause damage that will not be covered by your warranty.
To avoid these problems, schedule roof maintenance visits to align with authorized contractor work. And if any of the work includes elements that go through the roofing system, coordinate with your roofing contractor so they can be there while the work is being done. Sentry Roof, for example, will show up on site to cut the roof properly and then flash it after the contractors have completed their installation.
3. Lack of maintenance
Ignoring your roof can lead to problems that aren’t covered by your warranty. As with everything else, the longer a roof problem exists, the harder it is to fix.
Let’s say a drain is not cleared. Water begins to build up around the drain and standing water accumulates. After a while, the water gets very heavy and grows algae. Silt comes next and then comes the breakdown of your roofing system.
And if the roof gets accidently punctured in that area, there’s the potential for a lot of water to get into your building. It’s OK to have a little bit of water accumulation on your roof after it rains — we call those bird baths — but you definitely don’t want standing water for longer than 72 hours.
Your warranty states that it is your responsibility to maintain your roof so the roofing materials can do their job as intended. An annual maintenance program will take care of your end without you having to think about it much.
4. Storm damage that’s not addressed
It’s important to pay attention to weather that may impact your roof. Storms that may have caused damaged — especially hailstorms — need to be documented. If the storm was bad, it’s best to have your roof inspected soon afterward and not wait until your next regularly scheduled maintenance visit. You definitely want to have before-and-after photos and reports on file. Since storm damage may not cause your roofing system to leak immediately — the membrane may start to crack down the road — your best bet for warranty coverage is to have a documented history on file.
In the past, hail damage used to void warranties completely but now roofing materials have improved and so have warranty coverages. Why not keep yours as intact as possible and your roofing system lasting as long as it can? It’s smart property maintenance and smart asset management, too. If you need advice on warranty issues or any other commercial roofing repair or re-roofing issues, please feel to give us a call.
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