Why is my Commercial Roof Leaking?

Randy Blog
commercial roof leaking

If you own or manage a commercial property, staying on top of maintenance and repairs is a must. This is particularly true of your roof as it is frustrating, disruptive and costly when your roof springs a leak!  Finding the exact source of a roof leak can be difficult but a full and proper diagnosis is a necessary first step to a successful repair. If dealing with a leak, you should start by looking for the following:

Debris 

Wind, rain, and the changing seasons will deposit tree branches, leaves and other debris on your roof. If left unaddressed, the debris can clog rooftop drains, gutters, and downspouts which can cause excessive water ponding and unintended drainage paths for water, both of which can cause a leak.  Finally, that same debris, when dropping on your roof or dragged across it by wind, can cause damage and punctures to your roof membrane and flashings.

Deteriorated, Damaged or Poorly Installed Flashings and Penetration Details

Failing flashings and details are a likely source of roof leaks. Issues can be caused by poor workmanship, damage or simply deterioration from age/weathering. The consequences of shoddy workmanship during a roof installation are most often experienced in the premature failure of the roof’s details. Material failures are also most common at roof perimeters and penetrations.  Tiny cracks, fissures or holes in the flashing, or deteriorated sealant around the roof’s penetrations, can contribute to major roof leaks.

Poor Design

Many low slope roofs suffer the consequences of poor design.  The two design issues that most frequently contribute to leaks are an inadequate slope to drainage and insufficient drainage capacity. Inadequate slope to drainage is evidenced by significant ponding water on a roof’s surface. Ponding water is defined by the roofing industry as the excessive accumulation of water at low-lying areas on a roof that remains 48 hours following a rain event. One inch of ponding water will add a load of 5 pounds per square foot to your roof deck and if the commercial building is not designed to handle the additional weight, severe ponding conditions can lead to building structural damage and can be a threat to occupant safety.  The roof membrane and flashings covered by ponding water can also deteriorate prematurely.  Insufficient drainage capacity, including interior drains, scuppers, conductor heads, gutters, and downspouts, can cause water to leak into the building around drains and at exterior walls.

Old Age

Low slope roofs, if properly designed, installed and maintained will last well more than 20 years. But, father time is still undefeated. Your leaks could simply be the result of the predictable aging of your roof.

Effective property management requires the active management of your commercial roof assets. You should regularly have a roofing professional get up on the roof to remove debris, check flashings and details, and to look for signs of excessive ponding.  Overlooking any of these conditions may results in disruptive and expensive leaks, endanger tenant satisfaction and safety, and may void your roofing warranty. Be quick to contact Innovative Roofing Group by calling 404-594-6038 or sending an email to service@innovativeroofing.net if you have a commercial roof leak or maintenance need.