Money in Your Pocket

Money in Your Pocket

By Ed Williams, RRC / Published February 2022

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Prolonging the life of an asset is money in your pocket! This statement could apply to many things, but today we will talk about your roof as an asset. The original roof cost a lot of money. Obviously, we want that roof to last as long as possible. Maybe you have reserves for a new roof, but are they adequate? If a 20-year roof fails in 15 years, do you have enough money in your reserves? Perhaps you have a 20-year warranty, so do you need to do anything else? Yes!

     For those of you who have read my columns in the past, you know that we are a big proponent of annual inspections. Most 20-year warrantys now require annual inspections of the roof. Whether or not you have that requirement and warranty, it just makes sense to have someone look it over every year and note any damage or maintenance that needs to be done. One small hole in the roof is like cancer in the human body. Left untreated it can spread moisture throughout the roof like a cancer in your body. Inspections need to be carried out by qualified individuals, and repairs must be done that are identified by the inspector. This may be as simple as cleaning out the drains. It may be as complex as repairing the damage done by an AC repairman.

     There are ways to extend the life of an aging roof. This article will concentrate on flat roofs. There are some products on the market designed for shingle roofs, however, we have not had time to evaluate those. Flat roofs come in three basic types—built up roofs with a gravel surface, built up roofs with a mineral surface, and single-ply roofs.

     Built up roofs with gravel surfaces can be rejuvenated using a solvent-based liquid. This can only be done if the underlying components of the roof are dry. This can be determined by doing a moisture survey. If the number of wet areas is less than 25 percent of the entire roof area, then those wet areas can be removed and replaced with similar materials. If it exceeds 25 percent, then code will require that the entire roof be replaced. In addition to the solvent-based liquid, a highly reflective coating can be applied as well.

     Granular surfaced roofs can be coated with a variety of coatings. Most of these are highly reflective and can reduce energy costs. Some of these offer up to 20-year warranties and are much cheaper than replacing the roof. Again, the underlying components must be dry to do this.

     So, as you can see, the key component in extending the life of the roof is keeping it dry. This is accomplished by regular inspections and maintenance. The other important reminder is that a 20-year warranty only cover leaks, and it does not cover leaks caused by damage. That means that you need to be proactive throughout the life of the roof in keeping it maintained.

     Most roofing contractors offer maintenance agreements. These normally spell out what will be done on an annual basis. If there are issues with the roof outside of these items, then they will bill you on a time and material basis. A roof consultant will inspect the roof and send a list of what actually needs to be done by the contractor. Maybe nothing needs to be done. Check out your options but do something on a regular basis.

Ed Williams

Owner, Ed Williams Registered Roof Consultant

     Ed Williams Registered Roof Consultant is based in Florida and specializes in commercial and multi-unit structures—new or existing construction. Services include roof design, roof surveys, reroofing supervision as well as roof asset management. Ed Williams is a registered roof consultant with more than 40 years in the industry. For more information, call (772) 335-5832, email, or visit