Every year dozens of people ask me why they need roof maintenance since it doesn’t rain in San Diego. Every year many also skip roof maintenance only to find that the very next rain they had a leak. This is an all too common occurrence across Southern California.
What is roof maintenance and why is it important?
Roof Maintenance can be compared to an oil change for your car. Just like the oil and filter in your car have a limited lifespan and need to be replaced every few thousand miles, all of the various roofing systems have various sealants and components that need periodic replacement. You may not realize it, but the average residence has in the realm of 5 to 10 penetrations that stick through the roof. Take a 100 unit HOA building and that is hundreds to thousands of pipes, vents, a/c ducts, satellite wires, etc. sticking out of the roof. Each of these items uses sealant to properly seal it with the roofing system.
Another important item that is addressed during maintenance is cleaning. You’ve undoubtedly seen a car that has been sitting for a few weeks without a car wash. Just a few weeks and you probably won’t be able to see through the windshield well enough to drive without cleaning it. Now imagine your roof after a year or two.
A few years ago I found a tree, not a branch or some leaves, but an actual three foot palm tree, growing out of a roof drain. The owners were not keen on doing their annual roof maintenance, and then it rained. There was a major leak inside and upon inspection we found the tree. Enough debris over the years built up onto the roof, including a seed and enough nutrient rich sediment, to allow a tree to grow, take root into the drain and rip the roof open. An annual roof maintenance would have prevented this.
When should roof maintenance be done?
The Fall, just before the “rainy season” is the perfect time for maintenance because the roof will be fresh and ready for rain. Roofing manufacturers recommend maintenance annually. Unfortunately, many wait years between maintenance services to try and save money. This usually backfires. If maintenance is not done annually, services tend to get more expensive because more work needs to be done. Wait 3 years and there will be 3 times the debris on the roof, and all of the penetrations will need to be completely resealed as opposed to just having to touch up sealant.
Maintenance increases roof lifespan. Just like doing regular oil changes will ensure your car lasts as long as possible, roof maintenance preserves the lifespan of your roof. One or two years of debris buildup and sealant aging may not cause serious harm, but the effects are cumulative. Over time these items can lead to premature failure of the roofing system, or at the very least damage and costly repairs. That roof tree could have been prevented, instead it cost thousands of dollars to fix the roof damage, and thousands additional to fix the interior of the building. Is it worth saving a few dollars today?
Marcus Clinco is the CEO of Alta Roofing & Waterproofing, Inc., your full service roofing partner servicing all of San Diego County. This article was published in the Winter 2016 edition of the San Diego Community Insider – a publication by the Community Associations Institute San Diego Chapter.