Due to the unseen nature of roofing and exterior shell waterproofing, most of us do not think of our roofing needs until it rains and something leaks – when it’s too late. Usually, the time of year this occurs is the fall and winter. But does it make sense for you to consider roofing and waterproofing maintenance in the spring and summer? If you like value, then the answer should be yes!
Let me give you a mental image of the life of a roofing contractor in the fall. All of the phone lines are lit in the office. Customers are requesting more bids than can be accommodated. Due to the high demand, labor and material costs are higher. Profit margins rise dramatically as a natural result of supply and demand. An increase in hiring to meet the demand may result in less-experienced workmen onsite.
Conversely, in the spring and summer, you have the vendor’s full attention during your call. The contractor has the time to view your property himself and provide a thorough bid. Labor costs are lower than in the busier months. In order to keep his best employees working, he will add a smaller margin, as he knows the market is more competitive. The year-round workers are the labor that is performing your roofing work, and they are not racing to finish just so they can get to the next job.
Now that you understand why it may provide a better value to your homeowners’ association to do roofing work in the spring and summer, what other items of exterior shell maintenance should be considered before the rains come?
Perform siding/stucco maintenance
As with roofing, costs are lower at this time of year – prior to the fall rush. Like roofing, 90 percent of the siding/stucco leaks occur from 10 percent of the wall area, most often at penetrations and termination points. Proper maintenance of the siding system by qualified professionals will help eliminate moisture intrusion, mold, and dry rot. Maintenance will also help keep the hive-building spring bees and wasps out.
Excessive watering of planters and landscaped areas adjacent to dwelling areas can overwhelm stucco and siding, causing moisture penetration at or near the soil level. The most common exterior source of mold infestation is planter/garden areas immediately adjacent to living quarters. When experiencing mold adjacent to planter areas, it is recommended to cease watering and facilitate moisture intrusion repair and mold remediation immediately.
Clean window tracks
Ask homeowners to vacuum out their sliding window tracks. It will help eliminate moisture intrusion caused by weep-drainage blockage during the next rains. Throughout your association, it is likely that 30 percent to 50 percent of your homeowners’ sliding window track systems are completely or partially blocked due to debris within the frame. This is caused by dust, airborne debris, dead bugs, and spider webs and may include cigarette butts, toys, paint or whatever else you can imagine. After discovering fly larvae as the culprit in a messy condo unit years ago, I am no longer surprised by what I see clogging the window tracks. All sliding windows have a drainage system consisting of an inside dam-bar, tracks and weep channels, which allow the accumulated moisture to escape. When debris as small as an ant partially clogs the channels or weep-holes, leaking within the wall is common.
By trimming back tree branches at or near the roof and deck areas of your property, you can help deter gutter and drainage problems in the fall. In this process, it is recommended to be as aggressive as your landscaping committee will allow. Effective foliage trimming will reduce the number of times you will need to clean your drains, gutters and downspouts.
It is also a good idea to remind homeowners in your next newsletter to minimize the amount of potted plants on their balconies while also suggesting they keep their drains open and free of leaves and debris.
Winter is fast approaching. Have you completed preventive maintenance on your roofs and siding? Have you trimmed back your foliage? Are your window tracks, roof and patio drains free of debris? Now is the time to ask your vendor for a bid, or you can procrastinate and wait for the winter rush.