For your planned new office building or an office building needing repairs or replacements, your decisions about a roof will be critically important. All construction should be professional and of high quality, of course, but roofs are distinctively vulnerable to certain problems and maintenance challenges here in South Florida. These are problems that unaddressed can affect building occupants and the longevity of the building itself.
Roof problems can occur on any roof and happen to any building, but most of the issues are largely preventable through planning. Several factors will influence a roof's service life: its design, quality of installation, materials, maintenance, roof use, abuse, and weather. All of the roof problems described here briefly are common, but quality work and planning are the best ways to head-off major, expensive problems.
When it comes to weather, Florida has some distinctive challenges, including rain and hurricanes.
- All flat roofs, for example, are susceptible to flooding if not constructed properly and equipped with adequate drainage. Water that stands more than 48 hours can begin to erode materials and seep through flashing and other openings to damage the building below. Although Florida is spared snow problems, the weight of water that is only 1" deep is more than 5 pounds per square foot and becomes a challenge to roofs that are not structurally able to handle it.
- A sometimes-related problem is shrinkage. This may apply especially to single-ply roof types, where you may observe flashings pulling away from the wall or curb and possibly crazing or cracking at the perimeter.
- Hurricanes are endemic to our geographical area, of course, and if powerful enough can shift, buckle, or balloon roofs that do not meet standards for withstanding extreme winds. In that respect, as in many others, the initial choice of a type of roof and materials for your roof will be important. Still more important, though, is using a roofing contractor who installs your roof properly and, for example, is certified by the manufacturer of a given material to do the installation in conformance with the warranty.
Temperature, UV, and other Environmental Factors
Many aspects of roofing quality, serviceability, and durability directly impact the environment of the building, its comfort, safety, and energy efficiency. Closely related decisions about roofing must address environmental standards:
- It is of the first importance in our area to control the energy costs involved in keeping a building cool. How a building's roof is constructed, how it is insulated, and how its roof is coated are all among factors affecting those energy costs. Maintaining temperatures that keep employees feeling comfortable has been found to increase productivity. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) recommends employers maintain workplace temperatures in the range of 68-76 degrees. The effectiveness of a building's roofing is one of the long-range factors that play into the cost-savings equation.
- Many communities are enacting codes to regulate "green" standards such as the use of net-carbon zero materials, conservation of energy, and the use of recyclable materials, among others. We are current with all of these concerns and best practices for addressing them in installing or repairing your roof.
- In our tropical/subtropical climate, a choice of materials and construction methods can mean big savings on maintenance costs. When it comes to flat roofs, for example, heat, humidity, and UV damage can come into play. This pertains to almost all office buildings, but today issues such as UV protection, waterproofing, and energy savings may be addressed in part just by roof coatings such as elastomeric compounds. The goal is to block UV light and so reduce how much energy passes through the roof into the building itself.
- Other problems that may be headed off in this way are damage from water and wind, including acid rain, mold, and mildew.
Fire Resistance Ratings
A roof's ability to resist fires depends significantly on the materials used. An asphalt shingle's ability to resist fires—and fire resistance of most other roofing materials--is categorized from most fire-resistant to least fire-resistant. Generally, fiberglass shingles, for example, are rated most fire-resistant, while most organic shingles are rated least resistant. Ratings do not rule out any type of shingle automatically, but the nature and location of the building, the nature of its occupancy (for example, a senior care facility), and other factors must be taken into account.
Keep Your Business Running
With dozens or hundreds of people working in them daily, and a business services and profits dependent upon continuous operations, a concern on a par with other demands of roofing construction is keeping the building open and operating safety and comfortably throughout the job. That can be a particular challenge in roofing construction or repair, but it is one that our experience has taught us to address effectively.