This is a question many building owners struggle with. The answer varies depending on each situation. Understanding the type of roof assembly and the existing condition of your roof is important to make a good decision.
Understanding Your Roof Assembly
There are many components of your roof assembly. Three critical components include the roof membrane, insulation and structural deck. Understanding the types, current condition of your roof membrane and the environmental conditions it is exposed to is important. Environmental conditions such as emissions on your roof, roof-top traffic, slope, and drainage all determine the expected life of your roof. The climate, building use and applicable codes will largely influence the type and amount of insulation. To determine the optimal amount of insulation for your roof, an energy study should be completed. Your type of roof deck will determine your options regarding how both the insulation and roof membrane will be attached to your building.
Understanding the Condition of Your Roof
A thorough inspection of your roof should include a detailed condition report with photographs. The condition report should identify the roof assembly to include the type of deck, type and amounts of insulation, how the insulation is secured to the deck, the type and condition of the waterproofing membrane, how the roofing membrane is attached, the condition of roofing flashings, and other detail work to include how the roof drains. In addition to a condition report, perform supplemental tests such as an infrared or nuclear thermal scan to determine moisture levels of the insulation. A comprehensive understanding of the condition of your roof and its expected remaining life is critical to making a good repair versus replace decision. The condition report should be objective and not subjective in nature and based upon facts.
Understand Your Risk vs. Reward
Roof repairs extend the life of the roofing asset. Repairs are typically lower-cost and shorter-term operation expense options. A new roof is typically a more significant investment and a capital budget expense.
It is important to understand the right time to replace your roof. Risks in waiting too long include wet insulation making it unusable with a new roof, compromised decking due to excessive moisture, and persistent leaks. All these risks contribute to unsafe conditions and added costs to roof replacement. The risks in replacing too early is a premature capital expense. Weighting the risk versus reward and the timing will help you in making your final decision.
Here are some questions that will help you make the final decision to repair or replace your roof:
- What is the remaining service life of the roof?
- Am I looking for a long-term or short-term solution?
- What is my capital and operating budget for roofing?
- Is the roof membrane functioning or failing?
- How are the existing roof leaks affecting my business?
- What is my tolerance for leaks?
- Do I have a clear understanding of the risk associated with additional moisture entering into the building envelope?
- How are current leaks affecting the roof insulation?
- Is there a clear understanding of the unit cost associated with the removal and replacement of moisture damaged insulation?
- Have existing roof leaks caused the roof deck to be compromised in any way?
- Is there a clear understanding of the unit cost associated with the removal and replacement of moisture damaged deck?
- What is my time frame for a new roof?
- Will lower maintenance costs offset the costs for current maintenance and repairs?
- Am I working with a reliable, reputable, financially strong roofing contractor?
Along with all of these items, it is important to hire a roofing contractor that has dedicated crews for both repair and replacement. This will ensure you are getting the best craftsmanship for your project.
Collecting all this information is important to make the best decision for your building and business.