If you’re a business owner or in charge of your facility’s roof management, the last thing you want is a phone call delivering the news that your roof has collapsed. After all, a roof collapse is no small problem. First, there’s the risk of injury to employees and/or customers. And then there’s the likelihood of a total operational shutdown. Even if the building is still usable, OSHA authorities won’t let you reoccupy the building until they’re finished with their investigation, and there’s no telling how long that could take.
Preventing a collapse is indisputably better than working to recover from one, so it’s important to recognize the signs of a roof that’s in danger of collapse. When it comes to proper roof management, here’s what you need to know:
1. Weather Damage
It’s important to be aware of the factors that can damage your roof. Snow accumulation is particularly dangerous, due to all of the extra weight the roof has to bear. Wind and water damage are other common catalysts of roof collapse. All of these weather-related situations should be a signal to step up your roof inspections.
A roof collapse rarely happens all at once. Typically, some sections start showing strain before others. Any area of ceiling that exhibits sagging should be cause for immediate investigation. And fast!
3. Bends or Ripples in The Roof Supports
Bends or ripples in roof supports are symptoms of structural stress. If you see them, you need to make it a priority to find out where that stress is coming from.
If you ever built a block tower when you were a kid, you’re probably familiar with the bowing and shifting that occurs when a tower is about to collapse. Your commercial building is no different. If you see cracks in the masonry, something is wrong – and it could be your roof. An immediate inspection is the only way to find out.
5. Cracks in The Ceiling or Interior Walls
Structural problems can make themselves evident from the inside of a building, too. Cracks in the ceiling or in the interior walls don’t happen without a reason. When you see these signs, your first priority should be to find out why.
Another warning sign that should be on your roof management checklist are leaks. A leak is a clear sign that water is getting into your roof structure, and water is never good. If you spot a leak, your job is a lot bigger than just cleaning up the mess. You also need to identify the source of the leak and to figure out whether any structural damage resulted.
7. Misaligned Sprinkler Heads
Sprinkler heads will only shift if there’s movement in the ceiling, and your ceiling isn’t supposed to move. If your sprinkler heads are suddenly out of alignment, it’s critical to find out why.
8. Doors and Windows That Won’t Shut or Are Hard to Open
If a previously cooperative door or window suddenly becomes obstinate, structural shifting is the likely culprit. Those things just don’t happen on their own. It’s your job to find out why.
9. Unusual Sounds
If you hear creaking or popping, don’t chalk it up to your building aging and settling. Those sounds could be your warning of an imminent roof collapse and should be immediately investigated.
10. A Feeling of New Movement
This is a case where change is not good; instead, it’s a red flag that there’s a problem. Immediately investigate any tangible symptom of movement: new drafts, spongy floors, tilting or uneven floors, or any other movement that can’t be explained.
Roof collapses always seem to take people by surprise, but they really shouldn’t. Sure, sometimes they happen with no warning, but it’s a lot more common for warnings to be missed or ignored. Don’t let that happen to you. If you see any of these warning signs in your building, take immediate action to identify and address the problem. With proper roof management, your building will be in tiptop shape and far from collapse.