Why a Facilities Management Approach to Commercial Roofing Repair and Preventive Maintenance Works Best

On one level the practice of facilities management is the constant prioritizing and reassessing of which necessary facility repairs warrant immediate budget expenditures.

A commercial roofing contractor needs to understand this to effectively maintain and repair a facility’s roofing system(s).

The contractor must help the facilities manager walk the fine line between major repairs of older roofing systems and the minor repairs of new roofing systems that could become major repairs if neglected.  The idea is to maintain the newer roofing system(s) while over time bringing the older system(s) into an acceptable level of repair and performance.  It is also important for the facilities manager to understand when it is time to replace an older roofing system.  Typically that time is when too much money is being spent on the repair of an older roofing system, while too little is being spent on the necessary maintenance of newer roofing systems to prolong their life cycle.

Eventually, every commercial roofing system must be replaced. But, with inspection, maintenance and repair, building owners can extend a roofing system’s life cycle to maximize their return on investment.

According to the National Roofing Contractors Association preventive maintenance adds 30%-100% service life to a commercial roofing system. That means repair costs could be triple the cost of a preventive maintenance program over the life cycle of a commercial roofing system.

Another facilities management factor to consider in maintaining roofing systems is energy management.  Wet insulation in a roofing system loses energy.  According to the Building Owners and Managers Institute, good maintenance practices and good energy management go hand in hand. Some of the highest rates of return on energy conservation are generated simply by performing maintenance.

The key element to an effective facility asset management process is having professionals inspect those assets on a regular basis. On a periodic schedule determined with the building owner or manager the following should be done;

* Inspect the entire roofing system including flashings, drains or gutters and leaders, masonry, etc.

* Document each inspection (roof plan, inspection forms, and photo documentation). Each technician should carry a digital camera to document noteworthy roof conditions. Digital photos can be included with inspection reports.

* Perform infrared testing as needed to provide thermal energy reports to identify moisture within a roof system

* Remove all debris, clean gutters, leaders and drains

* Make minor repairs at the time of inspection.

* Provide estimates for roof repairs (or replacement if necessary)

* Comply with and document compliance with the maintenance requirements of any roofing system manufacturer warranties in effect.

Physical rooftop inspections and color infrared camera surveys are the keys to the effective documentation and analysis of energy loss, roof repair and maintenance issues.

In addition to the information gathered during roof inspections, the importance of maintaining warranty, design, installer, as-built materials data, and repair history information should be emphasized.  Contractors will benefit from assisting in the compilation of this additional data.

If this process is followed, the repair, maintenance and energy conservation of commercial roofing systems will be as cost-effective as possible.  And with this process, facilities-manager clients know years in advance of when a roofing system will have to be replaced, and what its projected expense will be.

For more information, www.flagshiproofing.com

Mel Thompson is a commercial roofing consultant for Flagship Roofing and Sheet Metal Co., Inc. in southeastern Massachusetts
www.flagshiproofing.com

10 Unique Tips & Tools To Help Your Home Survive Winter

Not looking forward to being cooped up in the house all winter long? Well, as wintertime is indeed inevitable, why not at least make your home a better place to spend the season? Here are 10 unique tips, tools, and snippets of advice to help you and your home survive winter with ease:

1.

What could possibly be worse than clogged gutters in the wintertime? Cleaning gutters any time of the year is undesirable enough (and also a rather hazardous chore too). But over the winter, when cold rain, sleet, and snow bring down all of the remaining leaves on the trees that somehow didn’t manage to come down in the fall, gutters and downspouts still can become clogged up. Problem is, clogged gutters do cause serious trouble when the ice and snow sets in. With so many effective designs to choose from, having a form of gutter protection installed is just an incredibly wise thing to do.

2.

Take credit…a tax credit, that is. By having energy efficient appliances and features installed in your home this winter, you’re likely making yourself eligible to receive federal tax credits. Eligible improvements include some types of HVAC systems, windows, insulation, water heaters, roofs, and many more improvements as well. Check out the complete list of applicable tax credits here on energystar.gov. These credits are continuing in 2010, but probably won’t last forever-this winter might just be the right time to take advantage and make your home both more energy efficient and quite a bit cozier for the season.

3.

Is it getting to be about time to upgrade your home’s heating system? Dual-fuel heating systems are really catching on for the beneficial energy savings they allow. Basically, this type of heating system deploys both a traditional fuel-fired furnace and also a heat pump unit. By controlling it all with a smart thermostat, it’s able to heat your home using the most affordable energy option, and will even automatically switch between the two based on preset configuration. It’s definitely worth asking your HVAC pro about this option (and don’t forget to ask about the tax credit too).

4.

Overcome the wintertime blues with a whole house entertainment system. Pro installers make the job easier, but the wireless technology available for a whole house audio/video system has progressed to become quite the “wow” factor lately. You’ll have note your exact requirements and choose a system to fit the bill, but one thing is for sure-what these setups can do has never been as incredible as the latest round of innovation has established. They’re easier to install and operate (and increasingly less expensive) as well. One final note-the latest round of LCD (with LED technology) and Plasma High Definition TVs are also more affordable and more energy efficient than ever before. If you’ve been waiting, this might be the right time.

5.

If you thought the only green way to remove snow was with a shovel and lots of back-breaking energy expenditure, think again. Electric-powered snow blowers are not only much more environmentally-friendly than their gas & oil powered brethren…they’re also generally less expensive, weigh less, and are easier to operate too. And yes, for bigger snow removal jobs, there are even hybrid-power snow blowers out there.

6.

Expanding foam is incredible. Any time there’s an equation where a four dollar bottle of expanding spray foam can save you up to a hundred dollars or more on heating costs thanks to resolving a few pesky drafts and leaks, the final tally is definitely a win-win for all involved. Chances are you probably already know exactly where your home’s air leaks are-why not plug the weaknesses this year, stay warm, and spend less while doing it?

7.

Ready for this little known wintertime secret? Having a gutter cover installed not only keep your gutters clean as we’ve discussed before-it also does a great job preventing ice dams from forming on your roofline and causing loads of damage. If you’ve ever had problems with ice dams before, you surely know how much of a problem they are. Again, the good news is that the icy winter issue can be nipped in the bud before it happens to your home with effective gutter covers.

8.

Take advantage of the contractor slow season. Especially in climate zones with cold winters, the jobs out there for contractors tend to slow down quite a bit over the winter months. This is the perfect time to hire the pros for all of those small indoor jobs-you know, the kind that everyone “was too busy for” last summer. Now is your chance to get all of those “honey-do’s” crossed off the list once and for all.

9.

Going away for an extended period of time this winter? The advent of internet-based home automation technology has created some really cool home management and security gadgets. Whereas the standard alarm system and alarm company monitoring service used to be the standard, these days, you can have an entire home automation system installed for practically the same price as an alarm system alone used to cost. Such a system will provide essential security; plus, it’ll randomly control lighting, automate your home’s heating, and even allow you to keep an eye on things remotely via webcam.

And as a final note-this tip could help both you and your home survive the winter:

10.

Make sure that both your carbon monoxide detectors and smoke detectors are properly installed, functioning, loaded with fresh batteries, and that they are simply not too old. That’s right, these essential life safety devices do have a limited lifespan. If you’re not sure, then by all means, have them replaced. CO2 is deadly; and unfortunately, most victims never even knew there was a problem until it was too late.

Be sure to take good care of yourself, your family, and your home this winter!

Source: Home Improvement Advisors

21 Ways To Take Care Of Your Home This Fall

Fall is almost here-and you know what this means, right? Well it means the harsh, bitter weather of winter is right around the corner and there are things to do to ensure your home is ready for the battle. Here are 21 ways to take care of your home this fall:

1. Clean the gutters.

Depending on how much foliage you have surrounding your home, this might just need to be done once after all of the leaves have fallen for the season-for many homes though, gutter cleaning will be necessary a couple of times as the trees shed their leaves for autumn. (Tip: Having gutter covers installed does prevent a great deal of maintenance!)

2. Have your chimneys inspected and cleaned.

Before even thinking about building a fire in your wood burning fireplace as the weather cools down, be sure to have your chimney professionally checked and cleaned if necessary. The expense is minimal, and the peace of mind in knowing your fireplace is perfectly safe to operate is invaluable. Need some extra persuasion? Here are 23,600 reasons to have your chimney maintained.

3. Seal any cracks and crevices in the home’s exterior envelope.

Various circumstances can cause gaps or cracks around exterior windows, trim, doors, and numerous other locations. If it’s a major problem, call a contractor to take the appropriate course of action. However, for minor non-structural issues, use the correct caulking or expanding spray foam to prevent cold air and critters from entering the home as the weather cools.

4. Have the heating system inspected and tuned.

Regardless of whether you have steam, forced hot air, heat pump, or radiant heating, fall is the recommended time of the year for a professional heating system inspection. This can not only prevent dangerous problems such as carbon monoxide leakage, but an annual tune-up will also help keep your furnace operating at peak efficiency and help prevent major breakdowns.

5. Do a foundation walk-around.

This should only take a minute or two, but could be vitally important. Inspect your home’s foundation to look for any new cracks or deteriorating tuck pointing. If you see anything out of the ordinary, call a pro to address the situation before winter’s freeze/thaw cycle has the opportunity to make the problem many times worse.

6. Trim the trees.

Large trees are certainly beautiful and beneficial to a property in many ways. But it’s also very important-and often easy to overlook-to keep them healthy and trimmed up. Whether it’s from storm damage, natural process, tree disease, or critters causing damage, trees do need to be pruned of any troublesome branches on a regular basis. A good time to take care of this is in the fall before winter ice and heavy snow cause the trees to fail and cause significant damage to your property.

7. Put in the storm windows.

If your home’s windows utilize storm windows or storm doors that require swapping the screens with glass for the season, don’t forget to take care of this task before the first cold front swings through. Properly utilized storm windows make a notable difference on the heating bill.

8. Consider adding more insulation.

Fall is the perfect time to have additional insulation added to your home when it’s been noted that there are under-insulated locations that could use some protective beefing up. And even if your home is properly insulated, it’s not a bad idea to take a peak in the attic and other visible locations to make sure cellulose or fiberglass insulation isn’t smashed down or blown away in any places-this significantly reduces its efficiency.

9. Paint unfinished exterior surfaces while it’s still warm.

Because it’s just not a good idea to try and paint outside once the temperatures begin to drop (the paint won’t cure correctly at below manufacturer-spec temps), early fall is usually the last opportunity to tend to unfinished or peeling painted surfaces before the harsh winter weather can damage the areas even further.

10. Winterize outdoor hardscape features.

Outdoor garden water features, birdbaths, and similar outdoor décor should be properly arranged, covered, or stored before winter hits. Especially true with water features-all water needs to be drained and the items covered or placed so no new water accumulates and freezes. Make sure all related electrical circuits are also switched off or disconnected as well.

11. Turn off outdoor water sources.

Sometime during fall, before the first hard freeze, you’ll want to ensure that all outdoor water sources like garden hose spigots are turned off at their valves indoors. This keeps freezing at the source from causing frozen and broken pipes indoors-a major issue that no one wants to deal with!

12. Cover outdoor air conditioning compressors.

It’s always good maintenance to use a specialized cover or a secured tarp to cover up exterior A/C compressors once the air conditioning season has passed. Doing so will help prolong the lifespan of this very expensive piece of equipment. However, if your home has a heat pump unit, then this step is definitely not for you-as it will run all winter long. Not sure? Ask a pro first.

13. Cut back shrubs and plants.

Some perennial plants actually require proper fall pruning in order to come back strong and healthy the next season. Others will just be unsightly over winter and can be trimmed back to avoid this. Read up on the specific plants you have in your landscaping or garden for the best fall maintenance procedures.

14. Drain your home’s hot water heater.

Once a year in the fall is the perfect time to drain your hot water heater to clear out any efficiency-blocking sediment that’s built up over the course of the year. All you’ll need is a garden hose and an hour or so of time to keep your showers hotter longer over the winter. Here’s how to properly drain the water heater.

15. Change those smoke detector batteries.

Essential to your family’s safety, testing smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors a couple of times per year is so important. While you’re at it, go ahead and just replace the batteries-it’s not worth taking any chances. And remember, most hard-wired detectors still utilize backup batteries too. One good way to remember this task in both the fall and the spring is to take care of it when the time changes and you have to reset all of the clocks in your home.

16. Waterproof decking surfaces.

Exterior wooden decks especially should be treated with a water sealant or seal & stain product at least every couple of years or so. Doing this in early fall is ideal because the freshly applied sealant will provide a good barrier of resistance to lingering snow and ice over the winter. Check into how to properly maintain non-wooden surfaces as well-they can sometimes require treatment too.

17. Clean out your dryer hose and vent.

This should be done more than just once a year in the fall, but this is a good time to make note of it. Dryer hoses and exterior vents tend to accumulate a decent build up of lint with regular use. Sometimes this problem can even cause complete blockage or jam up the flap on the exterior dryer vent. If this happens, it could result in fire, moisture damage (the hose does expel the moisture from the wet clothing), and also will certainly reduce the lifespan and efficiency of the dryer. Here’s a good overview of dryer maintenance.

18. Perform fall lawn care.

In most parts of the U.S., fall is the single best time to take care of lawn maintenance such as fertilizing, de-thatching, aeration, proper raking, and seeding. It’s a common misconception that leaving a layer of leaves on the lawn over the winter is good for the grass-in reality, doing this actually suffocates the yard. Remember, a lawn that’s prepared before winter will come back stronger and healthier than ever in the spring. Fall is also the ideal time of the year to plant new landscaping features.

19. Repair and seal cracked or loose concrete.

A common problem on driveways, garage floors, and on patios, chipped or cracked concrete should be repaired and sealed before winter hits. The freeze and thaw cycle of winter will make concrete problems much worse, as will many commonly used ice melting products. Be proactive with your concrete.

20. Inspect all interior hoses.

Rubber and plastic hoses and connectors frequently used to connect the water source to washing machines, toilets, ice makers, and underneath sinks do deteriorate over time. Checking them at least once a year, such as when performing autumn home maintenance, and replacing as necessary will prevent a major catastrophe should one of these hoses or connectors break unexpectedly.

21. Give your home a good top to bottom once-over.

If we’ve skipped anything here, chances are you’ll be able to catch it by taking the time to really look your entire house over-from basement to attic and all points in between. By doing your own comprehensive general interior and exterior inspection at least once a year (with a pencil and paper to take notes), you’ll be able to keep track of issues that need immediate attention, as well as those that you should just be keeping an eye on for the time being.

Diligently performing annual fall maintenance on your home and property will not only help prevent unexpected problems from arising when least expected, it will also save you plenty of money in the long run-an ambition that we can certainly all appreciate!

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