Up on the Roof The Perils of Skipping Rooftop Maintenance

In New Jersey, it's common for luxury condos to install recreational facilities on their rooftops—pools, hot tubs, decks and similar areas for socializing. You are also likely to find heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems, mechanical equipment, cooling towers and communications equipment on the rooftops of New Jersey condominiums.

Older residences may or may not have such structures, but they’re more likely to sprout weak spots where the roof has deteriorated and can’t support traffic. In any of these scenarios, failure to take precautions or make repairs can result in lawsuits, injuries, even death.

Routine Wear & Tear

Sure, the board is wary of costly roof maintenance. Some board members may balk at inspection fees and routine repairs, preferring to think that what’s in front of their eyes is far more important than what's on the roof two or three or 17 floors above. But keep in mind that the weather on top may be frightful, even when it’s 80 degrees and sunny below. Sun can be one of the most damaging influences on rooftop structures.

Neglecting simple, routine checkups could result in a far more expensive outcome than any funds that are saved by ignoring inspections. Industry professionals say that failing to do inspections and keep up repairs is a costly—not to mention risky—business.

“Typically if HVAC equipment is installed correctly on the roof you shouldn’t have to worry about it,” says Mitch Frumkin, PE, RS, CGP, president of Kipcon Engineering in North Brunswick. “It’s not necessarily how the equipment is installed but it’s the people who are working on the roof and servicing the equipment that sometimes causes damage. There should be mats for them to work on. In many instances part of the roof installation there are walkways installed to get to the equipment. Just walking across the roof can cause problems.”

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