Regular maintenance is essential in preserving the condition of your commercial roof and ensuring its longevity — as well as helps building managers save money in the long run by avoiding needless and unexpected repairs. By utilizing rooftop support equipment, building managers are taking proactive steps to protect commercial roofing and making it easier for maintenance personnel to perform routine commercial roof maintenance.
How Does Commercial Roof Maintenance Fail Without Rooftop Supports?
Let’s imagine a commercial roof without any traditional rooftop supports. Pipes, cables, and ventilation ducts simply lie on the roof surface, there are no equipment platforms, there are no stairs or crossovers, and there are no elevated access walkways (with built-in railings) near the roof perimeter.
The first problem is that it becomes much harder to inspect certain parts of the building. In a nutshell, any time employees work closer than 15 feet from a roof edge, OSHA regulations require the building owner to provide fall protection such as guardrails, nets, safety lines, or similar. If the work isn’t required often, then these protections aren’t necessarily required—but employees must still be prohibited from going closer that 15 feet to the roof edge via use of a safety line.
Commercial roof maintenance and inspections should be performed regularly—at least once a quarter if not once a month. In addition, workers should inspect the rooftop after every major weather event to check for damage and falling debris. In this context, maintenance is regular, and therefore building owners must provide fall protection.
What if you decide to skimp on maintenance by only sending up workers twice a year? This would probably take maintenance safely into the “irregular activities” category. Unfortunately, you wouldn’t be able to send your workers near the roof edge in that instance. This creates a major blind spot, because seams between the roof edge and the wall of your building are often the first areas to deteriorate, creating leaks and leading to structural damage.
Lastly, roofing contractors and other employees will have their maintenance tasks made much more difficult by the absence of other rooftop supports. Without stairs and crossovers, there’s no safe way to travel over cables, ducts, or pipes. Without pipe supports, this equipment is essentially flush with the roof and difficult to see. This means that it can present a trip hazard—creating a very dangerous scenario when near skylights, roof edges, or ledges.
In addition, the lack of pipe supports and equipment platforms can add more to the maintenance burden. The weight of this equipment can cause roof deflections that promote pooling and leakage. Damage pipes in contact with the roof can cause water damage, as can malfunctioning HVAC ducts. Damaged electrical cables can cause fires.
To summarize, the lack of proper supports can greatly exacerbate commercial roof maintenance issues. You’ll have to deal with increased damage—and a parallel inability to detect damage or safely fix it when it occurs. Meanwhile, adding a network of custom-designed rooftop supports has the opposite effect.
Rooftop Supports Increase the Efficiency of Commercial Roof Maintenance
Rooftop supports and access walkways provide three advantages for maintenance crews—increased safety, increased convenience, and reduced damage.
With roof access walkways that incorporate built-in guardrails, rooftop workers can easily work near the roof edge without the risk of falls. This makes it possible to inspect the roof edge and other steep surfaces for leaks and tears, then repair these issues in order to secure the integrity of the roof.
Meanwhile, access walkways combined with stairs and crossovers make it possible to navigate over and around rooftop equipment such as pipes, cable runs, and ducts. This eliminates trip hazards while simply making it faster and easier to traverse the roof surface. In addition, access walkways keep workers off the roof surface itself, preventing them from damaging the roof by crushing insulation or damaging the roof membrane.
Lastly, pipe supports, cable trays, and equipment platforms keep this equipment off the roof surface with ballasted non-penetrating bases. This spreads the weight of this equipment over a large surface area, preventing deflections that can lead to pooling and leaks.
Rooftop support products essentially create a virtuous cycle, allowing workers to access and inspect the roof more easily, while preventing rooftop equipment from damaging the roof surface. By increasing the number of inspections while reducing damage, it becomes much easier to perform commercial roof maintenance and extend the lifespan of your commercial roof. PHP Systems/Design is here to help you design a better configuration for performing maintenance on your commercial rooftop.