How your roof can cost you less time and money

Australia’s $6 billion hotel and resort industry has a lot of potential, but it’s also one that’s growing increasingly competitive. IBISWorld says that the sector is expanding by 3.3 per cent every year, as more businesses join the hundreds already set up on our shores.

Their income is based entirely on staying open to guests and providing a hygienic, comfortable and unforgettable experience. It’s no small task, though one that, if it is to be achieved, needs a proactive approach to maintenance, especially roof maintenance.

Having a plan in place to identify and prevent potential roof issues is an absolute necessity to ensure a resort manager’s most time consuming and expensive issues can be managed effectively. As they say, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

When resort managers believe they are saving time and protecting their budget by only fixing roofing issues as they come up, that is almost never the case. Reactive roof maintenance can cost a lot more, usually as more labour, time and materials are needed to fix a bigger issue than a smaller one. This can lead to prolonged downtime in an industry that relies on consistency.

Although there may be no leaks at present, there could be areas of the roof that are deteriorating and at risk. If these are dealt with proactively instead of reactively, managers are saving on the costs associated with repairing internal linings and counteracting the issue of mould that water leaks can pose.

It is imperative to understand the different roof types and potential issues they can cause. Whether it be a metal, concrete or tiled roof, having a proactive maintenance strategy can help alleviate these problems.

What can go wrong with your metal roof?

With metal roofing, especially in the hotel and resort sector, two of the biggest issues are sealant breakdown and poor workmanship. A lot of the time, everything can look fine on the surface, although it can still be leaking or deteriorating to a degree which means there will soon be more problems.

Many sealants only have a two to three year lifespan and long before that, can be poor quality in their design or application. It’s often very hard to determine when sealants have broken down in any given area, and when that happens, the whole roof’s condition can be compromised.

Modern-day detailing relies heavily on flexible sealants as the primary water-stop material rather than using well detailed metal flashings to be the water-stop system, so it’s increasingly important that they’re up to scratch. Most metal roofs come with a 20-year manufacturer’s warranty, and yet they’re held together by sealants that have much shorter guarantees, something resort managers often don’t realise.

Corrosion is also an issue with metal roof systems, most of these not being visible to the naked eye. This results in the root cause of the problem going unnoticed on the underside of roof sheeting, flashings or box-guttering systems, which ultimately leads to water ingress.
A proactive approach to metal roofing includes regular inspections of the roof whilst considering the products that are being used and their life spans. When it comes to roof maintenance for a metal variant, using materials that have a longer lifespan and complement the system as a whole, can call for less frequent and less costly maintenance in the future.

roofing 2What makes a concrete roof weak?

Concrete is famous for being tough, which is why it’s commonly used as a heavy, load-bearing roof. However, they are always covered by a waterproof membrane, which is much more prone to damage.
They come in three main forms:

● Bituminous sheet membranes
● PVC or TPO sheet membranes
● Acrylic or polyurethane liquid membranes

These often show different signs of deterioration. With the sheet-type membranes, there is the risk of delamination of the lap joints, where they become blistered or deteriorated to an extent that they’re no longer durable against the elements. The advantage is they’re often the easiest to repair. However, when substantial expansion and contraction is occurring, the membranes can become cracked and break down, starting at the perimeter wall, cross-joint or lap-joint areas.
With acrylic and polyurethane liquid membranes, the more noticeable forms of breakdown are cracking, crazing and blistering. A lot of it is due to the age of the membrane or the way it has been applied. These membranes are very susceptible to any trapped moisture, whereas that doesn’t affect the other membrane types to the same degree.
With all of these membranes, if you can identify early enough that they’re coming to the end of their life spans, they can often be patched or restored with another single layer, which will in many cases make them as good as new. However, a reactive approach can often lead to a build-up of moisture in the substrate and delamination of the surrounding membrane, and at that point it often calls for the complete removal of the existing membrane and installation of a whole new membrane.

What causes tiled roof wear and tear?

All tiled roofs need maintenance on a regular basis as the main areas that can be affected are the pointing and bedding of the ridge-cap area. This pointing may need replacing two to three times within a 20-year period.
With tiled roofs, there’s also a more substantial risk of leaf build-up, particularly in the valley drains (or valley gutters). The leaves trap moisture, decompose and often lead to accelerated wear and corrosion.

Also, if there’s considerable foot traffic or a severe weather event, tiles can become more vulnerable to damage than other roofing substrate systems like concrete. It could be from tradesmen walking across them to a loose branch hitting the roof in a storm. So, whenever there’s harsh weather or an increase in foot traffic in the area, it’s usually a good time to be proactive and check on the roof system.

Why be proactive?

Although it may appear that taking a proactive approach is a more expensive method at the time, it protects your building from potential internal disruption or repairs that may be required due to water ingress occurring.
It is important to understand that having a sound, proactive roof maintenance plan in place for the next 5 years will allow you accurate budget allocation and forecasting for these often out-of-sight areas. It will save you time by dealing with a smaller problem today rather than a big problem tomorrow.

Rosie Clarke

Rosie Clarke is managing editor at Multimedia Publishing.

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