Request a Quote

Getting Down to Work on the Roof – Pre-Inspection

Over the past couple of weeks we’ve talked about how low-slope roofs leak, the damage caused by trapped water, and the conditions needed to use thermal imaging to find it in the roof system. Many new thermographers ask me: “How can I safely and reliably get good results up on the roof?

This vertical ladder offers safe access to the roof for the inspection team.

First, a pre-inspection trip on the roof is important and can be done anytime prior to the time of the actual inspection. You’ll want to walk the inside of the building, looking for signs of leaks, and also interview building personnel about the locations and types of leaks. If plans are available, make a copy.

Next, determine a safe access to the roof. If that means an extension ladder, plan on who provides it and ensure there is a safe location for setting it up. Sometimes, we are fortunate enough to be able to walk directly onto the roof from a stairwell, but more often it involves a vertical ladder, either inside or on the exterior.

It is vital to get on the roof during daylight hours. No matter what you think, the dangers are too great to do this alone, so don’t! Any reasonably intelligent co-worker can suffice to keep you safe or notify help if need be—so remember to take a cell phone. You’ll want to walk the whole roof to check for the condition of the membrane, flashings, parapet walls, drains, etc. It is also very useful to determine exactly what kind (and how many layers) of insulation exists on each discrete section of the roof; if there is any doubt, I strongly suggest getting the owner’s roofer to cut core samples. Don’t attempt to core the roof yourself unless you are qualified and have written permission! If there are any ponded areas, try to gauge how long they take to dry. Map out all potential roof hazards—guy wires, hazardous vents, “soft” sections of the deck, etc.—so that you can mark them the night of the inspection. Make a backup plan with your contact in the event plans must change, and discuss how to notify security directly when you arrive.

I typically plan an inspection a week in advance based on my schedule and the long-term weather

Knowing the exact type of insulation in the roof system is essential. This is a task best assigned to a qualified roofer shown here taking a core sample on a Built-up Roof (BUR).

forecast. If the forecast the day before the inspection continues to look good—dry roof, sunshine, clear night skies and little wind—I confirm with my contact person. My assistant and I (again, don’t go up alone!) arrive a bit before sunset or right at sunset. That gives us some daylight during which to get our equipment up on the roof, using a back pack or a rope as needed, and get situated and organized.

Next week, I’ll go into more detail on getting down to work on the roof—after the sun is gone!

Thinking Thermally,

John Snell—The Snell Group, a Fluke Thermal Imaging Blog content partner

Leave a Reply




You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>