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How Should Commercial Roof Drains Be Cleaned And Maintained?

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Many commercial roofs are built nearly flat so that they blend in with the rest of the surroundings and make the most efficient use of materials for less expensive construction. Since the roof only has a very minor slope, it's essential that the drains and gutters carrying water away from the surface are working properly. Without working drains, the nearly flat roof will hold water like a pond and quickly develop serious damage. Make sure your commercial roof drains stay clean and clear with these five maintenance tips.

Quarterly Cleaning

Whether your commercial roof relies on linear gutter drains, simple scuppers, or embedded surface drains, they all need cleaning every three months. Scheduling a quarterly cleaning is the only way to know the drains are working. If your commercial roof is located in a wooded area or in a climate with cold winters, you need monthly roof drain attention in the winter. This is because winter brings extra falling leaves, snow, and ice to block the drains and cause serious roof damage. Don't assume your drains are doing well just because it's been a few months since fall, as clogs can always appear unexpectedly.

Essential Fall Cleaning

Even when you're cleaning your drains and gutters quarterly, you need to schedule a single intensive drain cleaning in the middle of your local fall season. Falling leaves, twigs, and other tree debris are the biggest cause of clogs on commercial roofs, so you need a drain cleaning and inspection after the bulk of the leaves have fallen. Don't try to push this maintenance visit to the end of fall since the season can last multiple months. Waiting until the end of the season allows serious clogs to develop and leaves water standing on the roof, while timing the cleaning earlier prevents this problem.

Biannual Inspection

Most commercial roof maintenance companies will warn you if they see any signs of damage while they're already on the roof to clean up leaves and other debris. However, you should still schedule two intensive inspections each year, once in the spring and once before winter arrives. These inspections can take place during your routine quarterly cleaning visits, but you should make sure the inspection isn't just the usual quick look during cleaning. The inspection should involve in-depth checks for each drain and gutter, potentially including video scoping to make sure there aren't any developing clogs deep in any downspouts or drain pipes.

Fastener and Sealant Check

During those biannual inspections, make sure the contractor on the roof is checking specifically for loose fasteners and broken seals around inset drains. A drain doesn't have to be clogged to damage the roof if the seal around it is cracked open and letting water pour in around the drain rather than through it. Loose fasteners on gutters and scuppers not only reduce the chances of proper drainage, they also indicate that a heavy part of your roof could suddenly fall off and damage property or hurt customers. It's much faster to quickly seal a drain or re-fasten a gutter than it is to repair a damaged roof or deal with costly personal injury claims.

Water Testing

Finally, make sure your drains are water tested by the inspecting contractor after each biannual checkup. Water testing involves running actual water over the roof to verify all the drains are still properly gathering water and directing it to the right drainage area around the building's foundation. Only water testing can reveal hidden clogs, serious roof design issues, and other problems that add up to thousands of dollars worth of damage. Don't just settle for a visual inspection when water testing only adds a little extra work to each visit.

To learn more, contact a company like Prime Building & Construction.


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