The Real Cost of Neglecting Your Roof:

An In-Depth Guide for Commercial Roof Maintenance

What are the benefits of routine roof maintenance? What costs are associated with it? How do you plan a good maintenance schedule?

If you’re asking these questions, we’ll provide the answers here, including how to do roof inspections yourself.

Capital Coating Roofers


Why Roof Maintenance Is Important

A roof maintenance program can save up to 50% over the life of a 30-year roof.

Maintenance is essential to keep many things in your life running smoothly. And your roof is no different. Many building owners and managers forget to check on their roofs, and we totally understand. It’s an out-of-sight, out-of-mind situation. But you could be extending the life of the roof and saving money just by performing routine maintenance.

To keep this short, here are some points from studies in the roofing industry.

  • More than 80% of all roofs are replaced prematurely.
  • Roofs that are proactively maintained last an average of 21 years compared to the average lifespan of 13 years with reactive maintenance.
  • Owners and facility managers who react to problems as they occur, pay an average of 25¢ per square foot annually for maintenance. Owners and facility managers who inspect and repair proactively before problems happen, spend an average of 14¢ per square foot annually.
  • Repairs, maintenance, and/or roof restoration costs thousands of dollars less than a roof replacement.
  • Roof maintenance programs typically cost about 1 to 3 percent per year of the estimated total replacement costs (cost depends on coverage).
  • A roof maintenance program can save up to 50% over the life of a 30-year roof compared to replacing it every 15-20 years.
  • A roof can leak for days, weeks, or months before it is noticed inside the building.

With a few exceptions, roofs fail over a period of time that usually lasts several years. As a roof reaches the end of its lifespan, maintenance costs rise as owners respond to more frequent leaks. Failure of a roof system is usually defined as the time when replacing the roof is the only option left to protect the building.

Current roof life cycle data shows most roofs have lifespans ranging from 10 to 25 years.  Although there are many factors that influence the life cycle, some of the more critical factors have been identified as heat, maintenance, roof traffic, and roof slope.

Regardless of the type of roof system, few would argue against the cost savings features of roof maintenance.


How To Create a 6-Point Roof Maintenance Plan for the Year

1. Maintain records

Keep a file of all records relating to this roof, including:

  • Warranties and contracts.
  • Inspection reports.
  • Repair and maintenance bills.
  • Original construction drawings, specifications, and invoices.

These records can be very helpful if you need to have repairs made or have additional equipment added to the roof. They’re also helpful when it’s time to reroof since you’ll know what’s up on the roof and what’s been done.

2. Conduct routine inspections

At least once per year (twice per year is recommended, typically in the spring and fall).
It’s simple, in the spring, you want to check for any maintenance items that can be scheduled for the roofing system. And in the fall, you’re checking to make sure the roof is ready to go through the winter months. 

3. Inspect after severe weather

Always inspect the roof for damage after severe weather such as hailstorms, heavy rains, high winds, etc. Just because water is not coming in doesn’t mean the roof hasn’t been damaged. The sooner you repair any damage, the smaller the repair cost. 

4. Repair correctly

All roofing repairs should be done by an approved roofing contractor. Make sure to check for qualifications and ask for client references to be sure that they will properly repair the leak without causing damage. Remember, improper repairs are a common cause of roof problems and are easy to avoid!

5. Keep the roof clean and clear of debris

Always remove debris from roof, such as:

  • Leaves, branches, dirt, rocks, bottles, etc.
  • Debris, trash, etc., from other trades.
  • Keep gutters, downspouts, drains, scuppers, and the surrounding roof areas clean to ensure proper drainage.

6. Minimize roof traffic

Minimize rooftop traffic by limiting access to necessary personnel only. Maintain a roof access log so that you know who has been on the roof in the event of damage to the roof from other trades. Make sure walkway pads are installed in areas of high traffic.

Repeated, long-term traffic can wear out a roof. The easiest way to prevent this type of damage is to keep people off the roof who don’t belong there! 

Manufacturing facility roof.

How To Do a Commercial Roof Inspection Yourself

Most roof warranties require that a roof inspection is performed annually and while many building managers elect to have a contractor perform it for them, it can be done yourself. 

The first step is planning and research. The inspection doesn’t have to be a long and drawn-out process. With some time spent planning beforehand, you can save yourself headaches while on the roof. Ask yourself some questions like: What type of roof do I have? Where are my leaks located? Is my warranty intact? Who installed the roof? Was maintenance ever performed?

Find the answers to these questions and any others you might consider relevant. It may come in handy while inspecting the roof.    

Reach out to your roofing contractor or manufacturer and inform them that you would like to perform a maintenance inspection. They may have required documentation or checklists to complete while on the roof.  

If nothing is available, we have a checklist available for download below. This checklist might not be compatible with your warranty so check with the appropriate parties beforehand.  

Download Your Inspection Checklist

Roof Maintenance Checklist Thumbnail
Pdf Icon 30Inspection Checklist ↓  

 The next step is getting up on the roof. Most roofs have external ladders or interior hatches, but if you don’t have anything already in place you will have to get your own ladder. Once on the roof you can now begin the process of inspecting the condition of the roof and looking for any areas that might need repairs. 

Use the checklist so you know what to check on for during the inspection. Take detailed notes and photos of the entire process.  If you find something of question or a leak, take photos and have a contractor inspect and repair it immediately. Quick action will lead to lower costs over time. 

As you’re working your way around and across the roof, remove any debris, trash, and sometimes even bullets from the area. If water is ponding, brush or sweep it towards a drain. Once you’ve worked through the checklist and completed the inspection, be sure to file it away with the notes and photos.  

Congratulations! You’ve just inspected your roof! You can now inform the appropriate parties that the inspection was completed and submit any documentation required.

As always please exercise extreme caution while on the roof. Roofing is one of the most dangerous professions for a reason. If the roof feels unstable or weak for any reason, immediately leave and have a professional inspect it. 


Commercial Roof Maintenance FAQs

Q. If I find a leak, can I fix it myself?

We would highly recommend that you do not attempt to perform any repairs yourself. We advise finding a certified contractor to complete the repairs.

Here are some reasons why.

  1. 1. If the roof has a warranty, you will void it.
  2. 2. The types of repair materials available to consumers will not perform as well as contractor grade materials.
  3. 3. It can be difficult and time-consuming to track down exactly where water is entering.
  4. 4. More damage or leaks may be caused by improper diagnosis and repair.


Q. How often should you clean roof drains?

Roof drains should be cleaned every time you are on the roof. Making sure your roof is draining properly is vital to preventing water from backing up and ponding on the surface. At a minimum, make sure they are cleaned out twice a year.


Q. How long should a commercial roof last?

A commercial roofs lifespan is impacted by many different factors like membrane thickness and material type and whether the maintenance was taken care of, but below are a few common commercial roof types and their average expected lifespan.

Metal: Metal roofs can last anywhere from 30 to 60 years. The average is around 40 years.

Membrane: Membrane-type roofs like rubber, EPDM, and PVC can last as long as 35 years but the average lifespan is 20 to 25 years.

SPF: Spray Polyurethane Foam can last upwards of 50 years if a protective coating is applied on top of the foam and recoated when necessary (typically every 10 to 20 years). Many SPF roofs are not taken care of as they should be, so the average lifespan is 20 to 25 years.

Coatings: While roof coatings are not a roof type by themselves as they rely on a solid substrate being in place, they can be applied to nearly every commercial roof type in existence. The amazing thing about roof coatings is that they can synergize with the existing roof and add 10 to 20 years lifespan. And when that time is up as long as the existing roof is still solid, it can simply be recoated for another 10 to 20 years. 


What To Do If You Don’t Have Time for Roof Maintenance

We all have the same amount of time in the day and it’s difficult to manage everything in life without forgetting about something. Don’t let this be the case with your roof. It protects 100% of your assets.

With our maintenance plans, you can rest assured that your roof is in tip-top condition, save time and money, and maintain your warranty. Our service team is ready to take care of you.

Reviewing roof inspection checklist.

Contact Us for a Free Roof Inspection

If you’re interested in getting your facility inspected or learning more about our full-service maintenance plans, please give us a call at 717-442-0979 or contact us.