MRO Magazine

Look up! Don’t ignore roof maintenance


June 19, 2012
By PEM Magazine

Question: “Dear Ken, working for a multi faceted manufacturing organization, we maintain numerous facilities and are currently experiencing many roof failures. Can you provide some proactive advice for roof management?”

For most maintenance departments, a roof only gets attention once it leaks into the plant. Many fall into the trap of believing manufacturers’ claims of roof life expectancy and mistakenly expect it to achieve its design life cycle with minimum intervention.

Many factors come into play in achieving and surpassing a roof’s design life expectancy:

  • Design: roof pitch, orientation to weather, construction type, etc.
  • Location: cold, windy and wet climates are more demanding.
  • Installation quality: choosing a reputable roofing firm of long business standing to perform restorative and capital roofing work is paramount.
  • Preventive maintenance strategy and execution.
  • The AIPE (American Institute of Plant Engineers) and the NRCA (National Roofing Contractors Association) both agree that a preventive maintenance program can increase the service life of a roof by up to 200 per cent.

A proactive roof management program includes the following:    


1. Perform a roof inventory analysis documenting roof type, age, warranty and warranty stipulations (if applicable), and collate any previous roof inspection reports.

2. Treat different roof types and locations as separate assets in the CMMS, using the building envelope as the parent asset. Use the software to track work performed on each specific roof.

3. Perform an infrared thermography assessment of each roof. I prefer to use an aerial scan to gain a single scan of the roof section in its entirety.

4. Using the roof inventory analysis document and infrared scan consult with a   reputable roofing firm to perform a physical roof inspection and condition survey complete with annual maintenance recommendations.

5. Consult with roofing firm to develop and cost out a roof failure repair strategy for repairing immediate problems found in the scan and inspection.

6.  Implement a preventive maintenance program for each roof using annual recommendations from the report. Commence with basic housekeeping tasks in the fall and spring, which include debris removal from roof, gutters and drains, and set up an annual physical inspection and biannual infrared scan.

7. If some roofing sections are new or under warranty, ensure preventive maintenance requirements are being met through the PM strategy and documented in the CMMS.

8. Consult with the roofing firm to develop a capital roof replacement strategy based on the scan, inspection findings and capital budget constraints.

9. Consult with a roofing firm to determine the placement of walkways on the roof (if applicable) to minimize any accidental punctures.

10. Check each new installation by performing an infrared scan of the roofing area post installation, and within the warranty period, to ensure membrane integrity.

For more information on implementing asset maintenance and energy management programs, contact Ken Bannister at (519) 469-9173 or by email at