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Is Trouble Lurking on your Roof? (Part 1)

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air conditioner on roof
Evaporative coolers are a common source of unwanted water on Laundromat roofs.

Miles Waters |

CHICAGO — While your Laundromat roof may be out of sight, it should be on your mind. Routine visits to your roof help avoid costly repairs and keep your equipment running more efficiently.

There are a variety of concerns regarding roofs and roof-mounted equipment that need to be addressed.First, if there is a permanent roof-access ladder, keep a key on hand if the ladder has a lock. If no such ladder exists, keep a ladder on site that is tall enough to safely access the roof. Trying to find a way to get on the roof during an emergency is not a good plan!Once safely on the roof, look for the following:Roof drains — Check that the roof drains are open and draining freely. A completely clogged roof drain can, and has, caused roofs to collapse. Roof drains typically become clogged with leaves or trash that can easily be removed. Pushing a hose, with a spray nozzle, down the roof-drain piping might be required. Piles of leaves should not be allowed to accumulate on the roof; they will compost themselves and keep the roof wet, causing its premature demise.Water — The constant presence of water on the roof will greatly diminish the life of the roof and will eventually cause a leak or lead to the need for roof replacement. Look for standing water or constantly running water during your inspection. Equipment malfunctions can be the cause of water on your roof.Evaporative cooler — This piece of equipment is probably the most common source of water leaks on the roof. If the cooler itself, designed to hold water, is leaking due to corrosion, a new cooler is generally required.A more common problem is overflow caused by a misadjusted float. Correcting the problem requires some readjustment, similar to what is done to a toilet float in the back of a toilet. Leaks in the tubing that feed the cooler can usually be fixed by tightening the pipe/tubing fittings using two adjustable wrenches.Water heaters — Although intended for outdoor installation and use, make sure the water-heater side covers are on and the exhaust-vent cap is on and secure. If rain enters the unit, it will destroy it or greatly diminish its lifespan. 

About the author

Miles Waters

Contractor

Miles Waters is a licensed and bonded contractor in California specializing in Laundromat construction and remodeling for more than 20 years. Waters is available for consulting nationally.

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