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Maintaining Your Roof for the Long Term

Maintaining Your Roof for the Long Term

Between daily operations and problems that require immediate attention, it’s easy to take your roof for granted. When revenues fall short and budgets have to be trimmed, roof maintenance is often among the casualties. As a result, you may find yourself forced to replace a roof earlier than you had planned.

What can property owners, managers, and engineers do to extend the working life of a roof and postpone an expensive replacement? A lot, actually – only one of the major factors that influence the performance of a roof system over time is not under your control — weather. Here’s a brief discussion of the others.

1. Design – Most people would consider this the most important single influence of the lifespan of a roof, but managers often ask contractors to submit their own designs as part of the bidding process. The roofers therefore have an incentive to propose cheaper designs to keep their bids low. While cost savings are a priority, the kind of compromises that a limited budget may require may not be in your best interest.

You’re better off working out the details of your needs before the bidding process. That process won’t add much to the overall cost of the project. Plus, when everyone involved is looking at the same set of specifications, the bids will be meaningfully comparable instead of a race to the bottom.

2. Installation – Labor is the largest line item in a roofing budget, and other factors depend on it. If the installation is faulty, the quality of the design and the materials doesn’t matter. Therefore, it’s critically important to conduct research on the contractors bidding on your job, checking references and leaning as much as you can about their previous work.

3. Materials – This is another area in which saving money must be weighed against long-term considerations. In most cases, the difference in price between high- and lower-quality products is negligible as a percentage of the overall budget.

4. Maintenance – The time for managers to develop and implement a detailed schedule for inspection and maintenance of a roof is immediately after installation. Some folks use a warranty to justify neglecting maintenance during the first several years of a roof’s service. It’s important to remember that small problems with a roof have been known to develop into extended disruptions to your business’s operations, and those aren’t covered by a warranty.

5. Construction Inspection – In an undertaking as expensive as a roof installation, it’s prudent to set up a comprehensive inspection program.to make sure that contractors are following design specifications, quality-assurance requirements, and safety standards.

Of course, you’ll have to pay up front for an appropriate design, high-quality materials, and professional construction, not to mention the ongoing expenses associated with regular inspections and maintenance. But spending now can protect you from extremely expensive repairs in the future.

The professionals at Energy Seal are happy to speak with you about another way to significantly extend the working life of your roof: elastomeric roof coatings, which protect against leaks and other types of damage while reducing your electricity bill. If you’re interested, contact us at 800.587.3758 or sales@energy-seal.com.

CITY GOVERNMENTS PROMOTE COOL ROOF COATINGS

CITY GOVERNMENTS PROMOTE COOL ROOF COATINGS

We regularly review the benefits of liquid roof coatings in this space. They reduce the temperature of the roof itself as well as the interior of the building, lowering power bills as well as the emissions associated with generating electricity and the wear and tear on cooling equipment associated with normal operations. Thus, the useful life of both the roof and the HVAC system can be significantly extended.

The benefits go beyond an individual building. When 2,500 square feet of roof is coated, the local carbon footprint is reduced by as much as an entire ton of carbon dioxide. That’s because the heat trapped by traditional black roofing materials contributes to the “heat island” effect, in which areas that have mostly been covered by buildings and roads experience average temperatures up to 5° F higher than less paved areas with more trees. The result is higher cooling bills even for buildings that aren’t contributing as much to the problem, not to mention the increased risks of respiratory problems, heart disease, and strokes.

From this perspective, heat-trapping roofs aren’t just a problem for building owners – they affect everyone nearby. So some municipalities are trying community-based approaches to turning down the heat.

NYC CoolRoofs

Established in 2009, NYC CoolRoofs is a city program that combines the installation of energy-conserving liquid roof coatings with job training. The collaborative effort among five city agencies is part of the city’s work toward becoming carbon-neutral by the year 2050.

If they meet a short list of conditions, non-profit organizations, low-income housing, community centers, educational facilities, hospitals and clinics can receive a cool roof coating at no charge. All other building owners can receive free labor, technical assistance, and ancillary materials (like rollers and brushes) if they pay for the coating material, which is offered at a discounted rate. Before the pandemic, individuals could volunteer to participate and businesses could sponsor installations as team-building exercises for their employees. Like everything else in the world, the program has had to adapt to changing conditions, but they’ve stuck to their original goal of coating one million square feet of roof coatings every year. 

Cool Block

By contrast, Chelsea, Massachusetts, at 2.5 square miles, is the smallest city in the state by area and has only 40,000 residents. It also differs from New York City in that the entire municipality is covered by a heat island.

The non-profit Cool Block project has adopted a single city block with an average temperature seven degrees higher than the already-high average of the rest of the city, installing what appears to be every heat-combating tool in existence: new trees, porous pavers, white concrete, grey asphalt instead of black. They’re collaborating with researchers at Boston University and the city government, which is negotiating with the Boys & Girls Club on the block about installing a cool roof coating. When the improvements are complete, the total cost will be about $350,000, most of which will be covered by a state grant.

Alex Train, Chelsea’s director of housing and community development, says a liquid roof coating applied to an elementary school in another part of the city lowered the surface temperature of the roof by 20 degrees. The average air temperature around the school dropped by 7 to 10° F during the summer months.

Cool roof technologies don’t just lower individual power bills – they help surrounding communities and the planet as a whole, even if only to a small extent.  Incremental improvements can add up to real change.  If you have questions about elastomeric coatings, the roofing professionals at Energy Seal can help. Call us at 800.587.3758 or e-mail us at sales@energy-seal.com.

SPRING MAINTENANCE FOR YOUR INDUSTRIAL/COMMERCIAL ROOF

SPRING MAINTENANCE FOR YOUR INDUSTRIAL/COMMERCIAL ROOF

Roofing professionals will tell you that a commercial or industrial roof needs sustained attention at least twice a year. Winter is the season that’s hardest on roofs, and this schedule reflects that fact. The cycle should be spring, to assess any problems resulting from the previous winter, and autumn, to make sure you’re prepared for the next one. Here’s a list of activities to undertake this spring to keep your roof in top condition.

TO DO YOURSELF

1. Conduct regular checks. You should be checking your roof inside and outside routinely, especially after heavy rains.

2. Clear leaves, limbs, and other debris. It’ll be easier for you to see if they’ve caused any punctures, you’ll be preventing damage they might cause in the future if blown around by wind, and you’ll be making it easier for a roofer to conduct a more thorough inspection. Buildup in gutters may lead to excess drainage near the foundation of your building and possible water damage.

3. Check roof-mounted equipment. Examine components of your HVAC system, solar power gear if you have some, and anything else electrical or mechanical. Look for rust, leaks, and loose panels or other parts. Exposed wiring and unsealed vents are among the problems to look for. You may want to consult with the technicians who performed the various installations.

HIRE PROFESSIONALS

1. Schedule an inspection. While the untrained eye can detect serious and immediate issues, it usually takes a roofing professional to identify less obvious problems before they can become serious threats. Inspections should include flashing, skylights, fasteners, eaves, joints, and any points at which equipment penetrates the roof.  In addition to punctures, trouble can take the form of soft spots, bubbling, moss, and mold. Gutters should be checked for cracks, rust, and loose connections.

2. Fix leaks immediately. Like most of these points, this one isn’t limited to spring but still bears repeating. A minor leak can become a major one very quickly, and the resulting damage to your inventory, equipment, and building can be ruinous. Still, some business owners gamble with improvised temporary solutions. Quick repair is always your best bet.

3. Remove dirt and pooled water. Depending on the weather in your region, you may find that you need to have your roof pressure-washed to remove accumulated dirt. Pooled water should be removed before it can cause mold or leaks.

4. Prune nearby trees. Trees make your landscape more attractive and provide shade, but limbs that extend over your building can break off and fall. Trimming them also means less leaf litter building up on your roof. Allowing more sunlight to reach the roof will discourage the growth of algae in wet areas.

An elastomeric roof coating can help with many of the problems discussed here. The right coating will cover small cracks and keep weather and debris from enlarging them into serious leaks; resist moss, mold, and algae; prevent standing water from seeping into roofing materials; and minimize the wear and tear caused by maintenance professionals walking around on your roof. Talk to the roof coating professionals at Energy Seal about the right coating for your commercial or industrial roof.

Get the Right Roof Coating for Your Substrate

Get the Right Roof Coating for Your Substrate

In terms of substrates, coatings are available in two types: all-purpose, which can be used on a variety of substrates, and application-specific, which are formulated for use with a particular substrate or a narrow range.

It’s important to consider the materials that make up your roof when choosing a roof coating. After all, the chemical process of adhesion involves both surfaces, the coating and the substrate. Generally speaking, coatings will adhere less well to roofs that are smooth, hard, and composed of chemically inert compounds. Surfaces that are irregular, rough, and chemically active will bond with a coating more readily and thoroughly.

The adhesive bond between a coating and a roof can be strengthened with an appropriate base coat. It’s important to follow the coating manufacturer’s guidance when selecting a primer. For example, primers and base coats customized for built-up roofs are designed to bond with dark-colored – and therefore hot — asphalt and prevent it from combining with the coating itself, which is usually white.

A roof coating can significantly lengthen the useful life of a commercial roof, but it’s only possible to achieve the beneficial effects by choosing the right coating for your individual roof, along with the primer or base coat that will help the coating work. Professional roofing contractors and technicians will have experience with applying different types of coatings correctly and consistently, as well as accounting for uncontrollable external factors like bad weather that can affect the success of your installation.  If you want to learn more about the coatings that are most appropriate for your roof or have any other questions about roof coatings, we at Energy Seal will be happy to help you.

KEEP YOUR COMMERCIAL ROOF IN GREAT SHAPE THIS WINTER (AND ALL YEAR LONG)

KEEP YOUR COMMERCIAL ROOF IN GREAT SHAPE THIS WINTER (AND ALL YEAR LONG)

It’s easy to take a commercial roof for granted. Most of the time it just sits there on top of your building, with no moving parts or fuel demands. But while it may not be active, it’s very important, helping to protect your employees and physical property from the unpredictability of weather. In that sense, it’s an investment in your business, and like any investment requires some attention now and then.

What’s my best plan of action?

The single most important thing you can do to keep your roof in peak condition (even if it’s flat) is incorporate regular inspections and maintenance into your annual workflow. Winter is the season that’s toughest on roofs, but for obvious reasons it’s not always the ideal time for careful examination. Professionals recommend inspections during fall and spring, to prepare for and assess the effects of winter weather. Cleaning accumulated debris off the roof before each inspection is a good way to make sure that task is also done consistently.

Under certain conditions, additional unscheduled inspections may be necessary. The two most common of these exceptions are installation of equipment, such as a condenser unit for an HVAC system, on the roof, and an incidence of extreme weather, like heavy snow, rain, or hail, or even high winds.

Who can inspect a commercial roof?

Qualified professionals who are familiar with multiple types of roofing systems include architects, engineers, roofing contractors, and roofing consultants.

What’s involved in an inspection?

To achieve the best outcomes, collaborate with the inspector you hire on a checklist to be used at each visit. The specifics will vary but most lists will encompass the following items.

– The exterior and interior roof deck

– The exterior and interior walls that attach to the roof

– The surface and any membrane that has been applied to it

– The fascia and the edges of the roof

– Wall flashing, base flashing, counterflashing, and copings 

– Any site where the roof is penetrated, including entry points for equipment housing and base flashing

– The covers over roof expansion joints

– The pitch pans 

Isn’t this going to be expensive?

A thorough inspection program requires time and money. However, given the major disruptions and destruction that even a minor roof leak can cause, the benefits of this form of “insurance” are well worth its price.

Weather damage to roofing materials, substrate, and insulation can extend to furniture, equipment, carpets, and ceiling tiles. You or your tenants may have inventory to protect. Businesses that don’t, like self-storage and co-working facilities, can still lose revenue. Mildew and mold can form in hard-to-access places, causing unpleasant smells and, in extreme cases, illnesses. And most of us don’t store backup copies of paper or digital business records in other locations.

What else can I do to lengthen the working life of my roof?

Elastomeric roof coatings like those offered by Energy Seal are a cost-effective way to prevent new leaks from forming, reduce your energy costs, and lengthen the useful life of your roof even if it’s already been in place for a while. Contact us for more information about the best ways to protect this important investment.

Four Myths About Cool Roofing Debunked

Like many new products, cool roofing systems were greeted with skepticism when first introduced. Because little information about them was readily available, people lacked the ability to separate facts from misinformation. For example, many believed that white coatings were the only cool roofing option.

Now researchers have had time to study the properties and effects of cool roofing systems, and construction professionals and building managers have been able to assess the performance of these products for themselves. Yet the power of myth is such that some carry on despite well-known facts that disprove them.

For example, cool roofs are now available for all types of roofing systems, including the most familiar spray-on coatings and paint for metal but extending to single-ply membranes and modified bitumen. But somehow many still think the phrase “cool roof” means a white coating and nothing else. The following is a list of other common misconceptions about the technology compared with the facts you need to know if you’re considering cool roofing.

Myth #1: Cool roofs aren’t useful in cooler climates.

Since cool roofs are so effective at reflecting sunlight and keeping temperatures down inside buildings, it’s hard to blame people for assuming that the lack of heat absorption will mean higher energy costs in the winter.

In fact, there’s very little heat for a building to absorb or for a cool roof to repel. There are fewer sunny days and fewer hours of daylight on those days, and winter sunshine is less intense. Some buildings in some regions definitely require more heat after a cool roof is installed, but the reduction in cooling costs during summer is so dramatic that it dwarfs that minor additional expense.

Myth #2: The expense of cool roofs outweighs their benefits.

As you would expect, the expansion of the range of cool roofing options has also expended the range of prices. Some of them are more expensive than “non-cool” alternatives, but lower energy bills demonstrate that a cool roof generally pays for itself in a relatively short period.

The exact amount of those savings depends on a lot of factors, including the amount of insulation in the building, the type of HVAC equipment that’s installed, the cool roofing product in question, and the regional climate. It’s important to do the match when deciding if a particular cool roofing option is right for your circumstances, but the key question is not whether you’ll save but rather how much.

Myth #3: Insulation makes cool roofing unnecessary.

Actually, cool roofs and insulation complement each other. Research has demonstrated that insulation performs more effectively under a cool roof than with a standard, non-cool counterpart.

Myth #4: Cool roofing is new and therefore untested.

People have been covering their dwellings with reflective surfaces for hundreds of years. Many of the entries in the Cool Roof Rating Council’s Rated Products Directory have been on the market for multiple decades. As we mentioned above, the body of research on the benefits of cool roofing is substantial and growing.  If anything about the entire field can be described as new, it’s our improved ability to accurately assess the benefits that cool roofing provides.

At this point, those benefits are well-established.  However, it’s still important to do your homework when you’re deciding whether any particular cool roofing product is right for your budget, your building, and your circumstances. Consideration of any major expenditure should rest on facts, not myths.

Cool Roofs Save Energy Even in Cold Climates

Yes, you read that right. The benefits of cool roofing in northern climates have been the subject of debate for years, but a consensus is growing that, under specific conditions, even reduced energy savings justify the outlay for cool roof technology. 

Most of the factors that influence the decision are the same no matter where you live: the specifics of the local climate over the course of a year, the type of building, the patterns of energy use within it, and certain physical characteristics, like the placement of ducts and the amount of insulation.

Insulation introduces an additional complicating factor: Building codes have significantly increased the amount of insulation required in new commercial construction. The interiors of these buildings experience less temperature variance for cool roofs to mitigate.

In addition, cool roofs continue to mitigate rising temperatures even when that’s not helpful. Researchers have noted an association with small increases in winter energy use in cold areas because cool roofs reflect solar heat that would help warm the building in other locales.

Even after considering all of these counterarguments, cool roofs in cold climates remain worthwhile under most circumstances. The amount of otherwise useful energy that is wasted by reflection in the winter is generally less than the amount of undesirable summer heat for which air conditioning does not have to compensate.

Two factors help to explain this phenomenon. First, several characteristics of winter reduce the inevitable waste: shorter days, less intense sunlight during those shorter days, and relatively frequent cloud cover. Second, cool roofs (unsurprisingly) reflect more energy when there’s more energy to reflect. Therefore, they save the most money during the hottest parts of the hottest days of the year. These times are frequently designated as periods of peak demand by energy providers, during which prices increase in order to encourage those who can to use energy at other times of the day. Cool roofs thus save more money during the hours when higher rates are in effect.

One longstanding argument against the use of cool roofing in northern areas has been undermined by recent developments. Some have argued that many of the benefits of light-colored cool roofing can be provided by a light layer of snow. The standard counterargument is the fact that some regions experience cold winters with very little snowfall. The terms of this debate have been altered by accelerating climate change. Areas formerly characterized by year-round snow cover now experience less snowfall, and some now fully exposed by melts during parts of the year.

In summary, the benefits that cool roofing can provide in colder climates are undeniably less dramatic than the cost savings achievable in warmer regions, but the advantages remain clear and significant. If you own a commercial building, talk to a local roofer to find out what cool roofing can do for you.

Don’t Replace Your Metal Roof – Restore It

If you’re installing a new roof on a commercial building or thinking about replacing an old one, you’ve seen the high-tech options that have been introduced over the past few years, but traditional metal roofing still has a lot to offer.  Many people still opt for metal because of the durability and longevity it offers.  These traditional strengths can be enhanced by roof coating systems that lengthen the working life of your roof and let you postpone the expense of replacing it.

How do roof coatings work?

Like other modern roofing materials, an elastomeric roof coating is a synthetic compound, but it complements and strengthens your existing metal roof rather than replacing it.

– First, the roof is thoroughly cleaned, and rust is removed.

– The next step is a pressure wash with a specially designed cleaner or a rust remover.

– The metal is treated with an anti-corrosive, which helps it resist rust, and a primer that will strengthen the chemical bond between the coating and the roof.

– Fasteners are tightened and, along with seams and cracks, caulked and sealed.

– The coating itself is an acrylic polymer that’s applied to a roof in layers, usually through spraying, but sometimes with rollers and brushes. As it dries, it forms a seamless membrane.

Other benefits

You’ll notice one major benefit almost immediately: lower utility bills.  Elastomeric roof coatings are normally white, which means they’re not only aesthetically appealing, but also reflective. Most of the sun’s rays bounce off before they can be absorbed. As a result, the temperature inside your building will not rise as much as it otherwise would, and your air conditioning system won’t have to work as hard. A roof coating starts paying for itself right away, and the energy savings can be substantial.

Some coatings have received the ENERGY STAR rating from the federal government, and some are considered a “green” building material that earns points toward certification by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) program. Depending on your location, the benefits of a LEED rating include tax rebates and credits, eligibility for zoning allowances, and discounted insurance premiums.

Finally, the roof coating process will cause very little disruption in your business’s daily operations compared with a complete roof replacement. The difference in noise level and traffic of a small crew with a sprayer or rollers versus a full team of roofers removing and replacing metal panels is dramatic.

Eventually, your metal roof will have to be replaced. You’ll have to shoulder the expense and tolerate the commotion. But why do it before you have to? An elastomeric roof coating can save you money every minute of the extended life it will give your metal roof.

SCHEDULED ROOF INSPECTION AND MAINTENANCE

Most people associate the word “maintenance” with mechanical or motorized equipment, like your car or your home’s HVAC system. But many things that don’t fit that description are also subject to wear and tear, especially if they’re consistently exposed to the elements. For example, the working life of a commercial or industrial building’s roof can be significantly extended with a maintenance program created and executed by cool roof professionals.

A comprehensive liquid roof coating system maintenance program should include these four elements.

A documented history, including contracts, invoices, photographs of original construction and repairs, and any other relevant paperwork.

A regular schedule of inspections (conducted at least semi-annually) with documentation recording the results of the acrylic or silicone roof coating system.

The inspectors’ recommendations for addressing any problems they identified.

Records of any repairs or maintenance conducted, suggested by inspectors or not.

Individuals who are suitable to perform inspections include architects, engineers, roof consultant, or roofing contractors, and roofing consultants.  The most important qualification is understanding the design and components of the elastomeric coating roof system. The best times to perform inspections are fall, to prepare for potentially harsh winter weather conditions, and spring, to assess the effects of those conditions.

These inspections should be guided by a checklist, with fields for recording problems and recommended actions. Although your list should be customized to the features of your specific liquid roofing application, most lists will include the following items.

– The exterior and interior roof deck

– Exterior and interior walls

– General appearance, including the condition of the surface and any membrane

– Fascia and roof edge conditions

– Flashing conditions, including wall flashing, base flashing, counterflashing, and copings

– Roof penetration sites, including equipment housing and base flashing

– Roof expansion joint covers

– Pitch pans

Unscheduled inspections should be performed in two other circumstances. The first is work done by non-roofers that affects the roof. A common example is the installation of equipment on the roof, such as an air conditioning system’s condenser unit. (It’s best to inform your roofing professional before this type of work is done, to be sure it won’t void your warranty.) The second is following any weather event severe enough to potentially cause damage, such as high winds, heavy rain, or hail. winds or heavy rain.

If roof leaks occur between inspections, it’s important to gather as much information as possible about the conditions at the time of the damage: the temperature, whether the rain was relatively heavy or light, the direction of the wind, and whether water continued to flow into the building after the rain stopped. This information is an important part of correctly diagnosing problems with the roof and identifying options for remediation.

These reports, along with the completed checklists and photographs of problem areas and completed repairs, should be incorporated into the documentary history of the roof. A list of all personnel with access to the roof should be maintained and regularly updated.

Establishing and maintaining an inspection and maintenance regimen for your roof will require time and energy, not to mention spending. However, given the importance of a safe and stable roof to your business, it’s clear that the benefits of identifying and fixing small problems before they can become big ones outweigh the costs.

A Roof Can Cool Your Building – and Your Neighborhood

We’re all familiar with the way that dark-colored objects absorb heat, from cars to clothing to asphalt. Yet we persist in roofing our buildings with dark-colored materials that trap heat and increase the cost of cooling interiors. A white roof can help to make your commercial or industrial building more comfortable, reduce your energy expenses, and even play a small role in reducing the rate of climate change. Obviously, any single roof will have minimal impact on a global phenomenon. But as part of concerted collective action, the effects could be dramatic.

Urban areas, with substantial concentrations of buildings, roads, and parking lots, often have significantly higher average temperatures than the spaces that surround them. These regions have been named “heat islands.” The Heat Island Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (which is a Department of Energy Office of Science lab managed by the University of California), works on figuring out ways to reduce heat islands by cooling buildings, cities, and the planet by making roofs, pavement, and cars cooler in the sun.

According to this group, the adoption of reflective substances for roofing and pavements would counterbalance 18 years of the emissions generated by cars currently in use, which number 600 million.

Changing just one 1,000-square-foot roof to white can reduce air conditioner use by approximately 20%. That much cooling would otherwise generate roughly half a ton of carbon dioxide annually. If the working life of a roof is 20 years, the total reduction can be as high as 10 tons. In addition, the average temperature and smog level in the local area will fall.

The trade-off is reduction of the roof’s ability to absorb heat and reduce energy costs when temperatures fall. However, Heat Island Group researchers have found that the increase in heating bills during winters is never more than 30% of the savings on cooling. They concluded that a white roof would save money for the owner of any building that needs cooling in summer and heating in winter.

The industry term for a variety of reflective roofing materials and strategies is “cool roofing.” The best time to install a cool roof is when an existing roof needs replacement. If your current roof isn’t near the end of its useful life, a roof coating can provide similar effects. The resulting energy savings and the longer life of your roof will more than make up for the cost, between $0.50 and $1.00 per square foot.

The Heat Island Group has developed a Solar Reflectance Index (SRI) to allow comparisons of cool roofing materials. The SRI hasn’t been widely adopted yet, but you can learn more about products you are considering through the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory’s Cool Roofing Materials Database, which is available on their website. In addition, the Cool Roof Rating Council offers a product directory that includes scores.

The most immediate advantages of an elastomeric roof coating are those that will appear on your monthly energy bills – or, rather, won’t appear, in the form of lower costs. As more people become aware of these benefits, adoption of this technology is sure to spread. Our climate problems are too large to be solved by any single intervention, but it’s encouraging to be reminded that sometimes what’s best for a small private business can also be good for the community that surrounds and supports it.

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