The 8 Most Common Reasons Your Flat Roof Could Fail Prematurely

 The Good, the Bad and the Ugly Truths About Your Commercial Roofing System

The Good – When kept clean of trash and debris, along with proper maintenance, your flat roofing system can last significantly longer than its original warranty.

 The Bad – Because flat and low-slope roof systems serve more purposes than simply protecting the building beneath them, they are more prone to premature deterioration than a sloped roof.

 The Ugly – Below you can read about ten of the most common and sometimes ugly sources of problems that lead to premature commercial roof deterioration.

As a roof ages, some problems are inevitable, but if you know what to look for, you will be able to prevent conditions that can lead to expensive commercial roof repairs or premature roof replacement.

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#1  COMMERCIAL ROOF LEAKS AND MOISTURE

No matter what type of roof you have, leaks can happen and when they do, they can significantly damage the roof structure, the building and the contents within the building, unless quickly identified and repaired. There are many sources of leaks, especially on commercial flat roofs – not always originating with the roof itself.

Most leaks on BUR flat roof systems originate at flashings (where the roof membrane is terminated or interrupted).

Hot asphalt and torch-applied modified bitumen roofs may experience leaks when a proper moisture barrier is not installed underneath edge metal and wall copings.

When single-ply membrane roofs are installed with poor seams, leaks can occur. The membranes themselves will hold water, however improperly sealed seams can leak. Proper procedure for your professional roofing company is to check every inch of lap with a probe at the end of each day in order to assure there are absolutely no voids.

#2  POOR ROOF INSTALLATION AND UNSATISFACTORY WORKMANSHIP

A faulty installation dramatically increases the likelihood of problems and reduces a roof system’s life expectancy. Problems with adhesion can result when the area isn’t cleaned, dried, and primed properly prior to installation. These are the types of problems that are difficult to see but could lead to future problems, accelerated aging, or premature failure.

Material preparation is important to a quality installation. Torch-applied mod bit system performance can be compromised if crews do not relax the sheets prior to installation, resulting in blistering, wrinkles, fish mouths, and leaks. Always hire a professional roofing company that is experienced at installing the particular type of roof system you are planning to use on your buildings.

#3   REDUCED WIND UPLIFT RESISTANCE, AND BILLOWING

Flashing that is not attached correctly will not only be a source for leaks, open seams and laps will ultimately cause blow-offs, reduced puncture resistance, and code issues, advises C.A.R.E.

Poor gravel embedment and an inadequate number of fasteners in the base sheet during application of both hot bituminous and torch-applied mod bit roof systems can also cause uplifts and blow-offs.

To prevent wind uplift, seams made with cold adhesives must be cured adequately to insure their integrity on cold-applied mod bit roof systems. If the seams are exposed to wind or rain before they are properly cured, moisture can infiltrate the roof system or wind uplift can damage the roof membrane.

Single-ply roofs can also be at risk for blow-off and billowing if not adhered properly to the substrate.

#4   PONDING WATER ON YOUR FLAT ROOF

It is never a good idea to let water accumulate on your roof. Before roof repairs are hastily ordered, the source of the ponding water should be thoroughly investigated. A rule of thumb in the roofing industry is “ponding water should not remain on the roof over 48 hours”. Ponding water can be reduced by either adding additional drains, re-sloping the substrate, or in certain cases the substrate can be leveled by adding cement based leveling material.

#5   PUNCTURES AND THE ADDITION OF PENETRATIONS POST-INSTALLATION

Foot traffic by tradesmen, construction on the roof or installation of equipment after the roof is installed can cause punctures or tears. YOur commercial roof systems’ performance is compromised when new equipment and penetrations are added to an existing roof, unless proper precautions are taken. In addition to leaks, damage caused by foot traffic can cause deterioration of the roof membrane and may void the warranty. It is a good idea to limit traffic and conduct inspections after tradespeople have been on the roof.

#6   TENANT IMPROVEMENTS

Tenant improvements (TI) either authorized or unauthorized by the building owner or manager is a major concern unless a professional roofing contractor is involved. Many contractors keep their costs lower by utilizing unlicensed roofer or one of their laborers to seal around new roof penetrations. This situation generally produces a leaky roof.

#7   IMPROPER REPAIRS ON YOUR COMMERCIAL ROOF

It is critical that the correct materials for roof repairs are used. Using materials that are not intended for application on your specific roof type can result in permanent damage to the roof. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper use and take note of repair products with a shelf life.

#8   LACK OF CLEANING AND ROOF INSPECTION

All roofs and rain gutters should be clear of leaves, trash and debris a minimum of once per year. A roof inspection should be performed at the same time with a report to the owner or property manager to give them the information they need to head off problems. Being wise to problems can prevent their escalation.

SULLY-JONES OFFERS FREE ROOF INSPECTIONS AND AFFORDABLE MAINTENANCE PROGRAMS. PROTECT THE INVESTMENT YOU HAVE IN YOUR ROOF SYSTEMS.

CONTACT SULLY-JONES ROOFING FOR A FREE INSPECTION TODAY!

Comments

  1. I didn’t know that before ordering roof repairs the source of ponding water should be thoroughly investigated. A flat roof is a perfect place for water to build up. I don’t know how easy it is to catch water building up on the roof, it could require a daily roof inspection.

  2. Flat roofs are always going to be more prone to problems and demand more maintenance. Like you said, if water doesn’t drain within 48 hours, you’re likely to have problems if you let it continue that way. Checking and cleaning your drains regularly will keep your roof in better shape.

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