Most building owners will at some point encounter the high expenses of roof damage and repairs. Roofs do not last forever, so you should always have a maintenance strategy to avoid most of the problems which occur; the most common being those caused by water infiltration.

Regardless of maintenance and regular upkeep, the decision to replace, repair or recover a roof will ultimately have to be answered. When it comes to deciding what to do with a roofing system you need to consider each location because every building has different factors that need to be considered.

You need to look at the roof already in place, costs, construction schedules, occupants, and the long and short term use of the building. The first place to start will be the same for all buildings; you need to evaluate the remaining life that the current roof has left. To accurately do this you need to consider water damage, trapped moisture, membrane slippage, and aggregate movement of the roof.

A professional roofing contractor can evaluate these factors for you and give you the estimated remaining life span for your roof. Professionals can also tell you exactly where the damage is and show you how water is entering the system, rather than leaving you to work on assumptions.

The Moisture Problem

When the cause of a problem is due to impact or an isolated event, then temporary fixes can serve just fine. So as long as the problem is not systemic, these fixes will get the roof repaired and its expected lifespan can be returned. You always want to evaluate the membrane for moisture damage as a starting point.

On the surface, everything may look fine but subsurface moisture can be hiding and potentially cause problems later on. If any moisture is present, then the whole system needs replacement; any presence of water will cause extensive deterioration and rot.

You always want to identify the source of any moisture because if not found, the problems will continue and worsen. Investigating the moisture will be costly, but it may work out more in your favor if it effectively identifies the problem and saves you replacing an entire roof.

Repairing Your Roof

If the damage done to the roof is extensive and caused by long-term exposure then replacing sections of a roof may not be the best option. You can easily replace flashings or pitch pockets that have deteriorated but only fixing isolated components is rarely cost effective when you have a worn out membrane.

Plus when you mix worn out with new components, the roofing system will never be as effective. If water is getting into the roof system because it is old, then eventually the entire thing will need to be replaced. Also if the source of any leak is not identified correctly, countless repairs will be done without actually fixing the rood cause. In both of these incidents, temporary fixes are not justifiable and your money will be better spent replacing the whole roof.

Recovering Your Roof

The process of roof recovery involves installing a new system over an existing one. The biggest advantage to this method is savings because you don’t have to remove and dispose of the old roof membrane. Additionally, by leaving the original membrane intact, he roof now has an extra protective layer from water.

Most roof recovering includes installing a thin layer of insulation to separate the two membranes. This adds the benefit of additional thermal performance. Just as with any other repair job, you must first confirm there is no water infiltration already.

Installing a new system over one that already has trapped water is a guaranteed recipe for disaster and much higher expenses down the line. Depending on the moisture level, it may be more advantageous to simply replace the roof (extensive damage is roughly 30 to 35% of the roof coverage). Recovery is also affected by how many layers are already present. Building codes usually have restrictions as to the number of systems that can be in place, so this needs to be confirmed before adding a new system through recovery.

Replacing Your Roof

You only want to consider removing your old roof and replacing with a completely new one if any of the following situations exists for you:

  • Building codes mandate that you tear off roofing
  • There is extensive water infiltration below the membrane
  • The existing system has deteriorated beyond repair
  • The current system is unable to provide the necessary wind-up lift resistance or fire protection

During construction of a new roofing system, you want to protect it from the elements so no water damages occurs before installation is complete. One way to do this it to install a temporary roof, which in some climates can be left in place to act as a vapor retarder.

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