MINNEAPOLIS — Seven years before Minnesota achieved statehood, the University of Minnesota was founded. Now celebrating its 170th anniversary, the public school has more than 280 buildings on its Twin Cities campus — more than one for every year it’s been in existence. 

Since 2014, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities has contracted Central Roofing Company to assure that the roofs on their campus structures stay in “Grade A” condition. The Preventive Maintenance Inspections (PMI) program is designed so that every foot of each rooftop is inspected, evaluated and reported on each year. This allows university officials to give approval on small fixes that are needed immediately, along with planning out for full roof replacements.

Walking the Rooftops

Every springtime teams of Central Roofing employees walk the rooftops of Twin Cities buildings on the East Bank, West Bank and St. Paul campuses. They remove debris, and clear all roof drains, scuppers and any other drainage discharge areas needing assistance. The teams also make notes of roofing failures, potential long-term problems and immediate needs.

“Some of the buildings have 15 to 20 roof sections,” says Jared Mehring, project manager/estimator with Central Roofing Company in Minneapolis. “We document all of the repairs or deficiencies on each roof section along with the condition of the entire roof. This is a very detailed process that helps university officials know exactly the status of each building’s roof.”

Oftentimes taking up to three months to complete, the yearly inspections require precision.

“We try to schedule the same people to conduct the evaluations each year because they’ve become familiar with the roofs,” says Mehring. “And, if there’s a leak or problem with a roof during the year we again focus on getting the people to the jobsite who are most familiar with those structures.”

Watching Out for the Future

Having a comprehensive preventative maintenance program in place is a smart investment for the expansive 1,200-plus acre university.

“Without annual inspections the university could risk losing a warranty provided by a roof installer,” says Dustin Hayes, previously the vendor program coordinator for the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. “This program gives the university peace-of-mind and allows for long-term planning of roof replacements.

“The annual roof inspections provided by Central Roofing are concise and easy to understand. They provide the reports in a timely manner and it’s easy to contact their service team if any questions arise. I personally believe this program has provided great value to the university.”

Kirk Richardson, facilities team manager for the St. Paul campus at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, is also pleased with the results of the ongoing PMI program.

“Central Roofing quickly responds to our needs, and has strong follow-up and follow-through,” says Richardson. “My role is to supervise the operation and maintenance of facilities that are in my work area. Naturally, each of these facilities has roofs. Having the PMI program has been very successful for us.”

From Repairs to Replacements

While the Central Roofing teams review the roof surfaces, they’re also correcting deficiencies. Missing roof shingles, deteriorated roof areas or missing pieces of sheet metal flashing are repaired. Cracked roof walkway pavers or areas with ponding water are also fixed. Last year the team even removed a couch placed on a roof by students.

“Whatever the situation, we document what our service team repairs, along with any issues they notice while on the rooftops,” says Central Roofing’s Mehring. “Oftentimes we’ll work on long-range planning with university officials for roof replacements.”

In recent years the Central Roofing team has replaced roofs on some of the largest structures on the school’s campuses. These include roofs on the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs, Bell Museum (Minnesota’s official natural history museum and planetarium), the Recreation and Wellness Center, the Jean K. Freeman Aquatics Center and the Weisman Art Museum. Several additional facilities that have also been reroofed include Pioneer Hall, the Veterinary Science Center, Willey Hall and Appleby Hall.

“In order for a commercial roofing system to run at optimal performance levels, it’s necessary to have a maintenance strategy in place,” says Mehring. “The PMI program makes certain that the roofs at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities stay clean, functional and protected.”