Solutions to Roofing Emergencies & Repairs

A good roofing management program extends the life of the roof and maintains its ability to perform with minimal repair. 

Depending on your role in the property, you will need to communicate with your facility management team to confirm that this program is in place. It is important to keep an inventory of repair materials appropriate for the roofing system, as part of a regular maintenance program. This will facilitate quick repairs that can minimize damage.

Without consulting with your facilities team first about this program, roof leakage and property damage are likely, with repairs and replacement scheduled by crisis rather than by design.

Emergency Roofing Repairs

The best time to prepare for emergency repairs is before they are needed. Emergencies, by definition, require quick action, usually during severe weather that can cause dangerous conditions on the roof as well as inside. Electricity and water are a hazardous combination. It is important to protect occupants by closing off areas that are endangered or shutting off electrical service if necessary.

Keep a supply of basic roofing repair materials on hand. In addition, sheets of plastic film, a wet-vac, clean rags, mops, and buckets are useful to protect furnishings and remove water. Specialized products developed for emergencies include reinforced nylon tarps with threaded hose connections at the center, called ceiling water diverters. Special leak-plugging chemicals are another option to consider.

The following are some additional materials and tools to have on hand for roofing emergencies:
  • bituminous mastic, appropriate for roofing type
  • wet-patch mastics
  • treated woven glass or burlap (for bituminous systems)
  • adhesive and narrow rolls of elastomeric/plastic membran
  • duct tape
  • screwdriver, sharp knife, scissors, straight claw hammer
  • trowel or mastics brush for adhesives
  • large-headed nails for flashing failures
  • satchel to haul tools
  • dry rugs
  • push broom

Wet Condition Roofing Repairs

When dealing with extreme wet conditions, it is important to dry out the surface as much as possible. Even wet-patch materials have a better chance of success if surface water is removed. If necessary, dam off water flow to the damaged area by embedding wood two-by-fours in plastic cement or use sand, sandbags, portland cement, mortar mix, or lime. Dry the area with rags, a propane torch, compressed air, fans, or hot air guns. Use caution with electrical devices in wet areas.

After an emergency is under control, record the location of the temporary repairs and schedule permanent repairs as soon as possible. If severe weather persists for weeks, the patches may have to be checked frequently and redone as necessary to protect the building.

This article is adapted from BOMI International’s course The Design, Operation, and Maintenance of Building Systems, Part Ipart of the RPA® and FMA® designation programs. More information regarding this course is available by calling 1.800.235.2664. Visit BOMI International’s website, www.bomi.org.

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