Commercial Spray Foam Roof Maintenance: An Owner’s Guide
Spray foam roofing works especially well for flat commercial roofs. Installation is relatively quick and the roofs can last for decades with only periodic maintenance. You can further extend the life of the roof by understanding the basic issues a spray foam roof faces, along with the maintenance expectations that are necessary to avoid problems.
Flat commercial roofs, including those composed of spray foam, have specific issues that can lead to problems as the roof ages. Although you may not be able to totally protect the roof from these issues, you can take steps to mitigate the damage.
Weather damages include specific events, like hail and wind, as well as general exposure, such as UV damage. Weather damage can lead to holes or uneven wear to the roof coating, which can then result in an increased chance for leaks.
UV damage is more insidious, as it slowly causes the roof to break down. Small cracks or holes that are difficult to see may form, leading to leaks and further erosion of the roof material. UV coatings can be applied to help minimize damage.
Bird damage can affect any roof, but flat roofs tend to be more exposed because these roofs attract many birds to nest. The birds’ droppings are acidic, which can eat through the spray foam roof coating over time and shorten the roof’s lifespan. Bird nests can also block roof drains, which leads to pooling water and increases the chances of leaks.
Bird devices, such as spikes or scare devices, can minimize the amount of perching and nesting birds, which will then lower the risks of bird damage.
A spray foam roof can last up to 30 years if it is properly maintained, so you need to have a maintenance schedule that will help catch the above-mentioned issues early.
Maintenance schedules can vary depending upon roof specifics. Other than periodic recoatings, most maintenance revolves around keeping the roof clean so that the spray foam coating isn’t damaged and issues don’t arise from debris.
A roofing service can come out one or two times a year to wash away bird droppings, chemical pollutants, and debris like bird nests and fallen leaves. Drains and gutter systems will also be cleaned out to ensure they are working properly.
Annual inspections, performed by your facility manager or a roofer, catch potential issues before they can develop into a problem. Perform a roof inspection as part of the annual maintenance routine.
Your inspector should check flashing, rooftop appliances, and the drain systems for any damages that require repairs. The spray foam coating must also be surveyed at this time for weathering, bird damages, and possible breaches.
Two types of repairs are needed for foam roofs — repair of specific damages as well as periodic recoating of the roof.
Repairs can vary as they address specific problems. Leaks and potential leaks from damage are the most common, with drain issues also near the top of the list. Fortunately, most leaks can be patched during the early stages.
Drains may require cleaning, or if pooling water is a problem, you may need to install additional drains or have current drains widened.
Periodic recoating schedules vary depending on factors like local weather and bird pressure, but the average span between full recoating is every 10 to 15 years on average. Before recoating, your roofer will seal any damaged and pitted areas. They may also need to remove badly damaged roof sections and build them back up before applying a fresh coat of spray foam.