Roofing is an expensive investment. Ongoing roof maintenance or repairs can be a hassle. Additionally, since roofing is so costly, it often does not stay at top-of-mind for many building owners. But a roof will have problems at some point, and when those issues do arise, catching the damage early can help you avoid pricier roof repairs or even roof replacement. Doing so can also help keep your roof warranty going strong. From that standpoint, it can be helpful to know some common problems your commercial roof will likely face. Naturally, some roofs will have problems that are proper to their type of roofing system. For instance, a metal roof can have costly, ongoing battles with rust. Flat roofs will be at greater risk to damage from ponding water than low slope roofs. But all roofs have some issues that they will experience in common.
No. 1: Leaks & Moisture
Leaks and moisture. All commercial roofs are prone to the damaging effects of leaks or moisture infiltration. In fact, if even a small roof leak is left alone, it could lead to much bigger problems that could be avoided if the leak were addressed. Roof leaks can spring up from many causes. These can include a roofing system not being properly installed, poor adhesion, an appropriate moisture barrier not being properly installed under certain kinds of roofing such as modified bitumen roofing, or moisture seeping under a roof surface. Aside from water falling into a building space, roof leaks or moisture infiltration under a roof surface can lead to rotting, mold, or other problems depending on the underlying material composition.
No. 2: Wear & Tear
All industry experts agree on the importance of having your roof regularly inspected and regular maintenance performed. Like other valuable things that experience wear-and-tear over time, a roof will have fewer problems if early-stage damage, problems, or signs of trouble are headed off quickly. A regular roof maintenance program will keep your roofing problems at bay and be a strong preventative against big roofing issues or needs making an unwelcome appearance.
No. 3: Standing Water
Also known as “Ponding water”. This problem is a common headache on virtually all commercial flat roofs. It is also noticeable sometimes on sloped roofs that have flatter slope configurations around their perimeter or that “flatten out” in certain areas. Ponding water can be a sign of deeper trouble: debris build-up on a roof, improper drainage from HVAC units or gutters, or overall poor-quality configuration design. Over time, as water gathers into an existing pool of water on a roof, the pool of water exerts stronger and stronger pressure on the roof surface. If left untended, the pooling water’s pressure can be strong enough where the roof surface is compromised and water infiltrates into the roofing components below. Other factors, such as thermal shock and heavier precipitation, can speed up a roof’s decay or exert more powerful, downward pressure on the roof surface, making it more likely for water to infiltrate and do its damage.
No. 4: Thermal Weathering
Roof shrinkage and cracking. For virtually all roof types, thermal shock can be one of the most common roofing problems over time. Roofs such as EPDM rubber roofs can be at greater risk than other roof types, though. Thermal shock refers to the deteriorating effects of the sun’s powerful, harmful UV rays upon a roof over time. In temperature extremes, the sun becomes even more extensive in how much it affects a roof. The sun’s energy causes the roof to expand in hotter periods, and causes the roof to contract once it starts to cool down. A roof that has a dark-colored surface will also absorb heat from the sun than its lighter-colored counterparts, which further contributes to deterioration. In time, thanks to the sun’s influence, a roof can experience shrinkage, cracking, surface crazing, loosened roof flashing, and even more exposed seams, depending on the roof’s type.
No. 5: Surface Erosion
Various forms of surface erosion or breakdown. Some common instances of surface erosion or breakdown include blistering, splitting, ridging, and other conditions. They can lead to other problems such as accelerated roof aging or breakdown if left unheeded. In many cases, roof surface erosion or breakdown can be pinned down to roof weathering that has been caused by outdoor extremes. However, on roofs that are made up of sheet products, poor installation or workmanship can lead to these problems or others such as roof wrinkles or fish mouthing.
No. 6: Effects following Disaster
Roof blow-offs, punctures, or wind uplift. When a commercial roof is poorly installed or gets poor servicing, it becomes at risk for blow-offs, billowing, puncturing, wind up-lift, or other forms of severe roof damage often caused by powerful storms or outdoor hazards. Roofs that are made of sheet products or can be at risk for exposed seams or open laps can be strong candidates for this sort of damage. If a roof experiences partial blow-off or tearing, it can be at greater risk for moisture penetration and then resulting, damaging leaks.
No. 7: Poor Installation
Poor product installation or workmanship. Naturally, one of the most common roofing issues is not tied necessarily to the roof’s performance itself, but how a contractor installed the roof or serviced it. Poor installation, roof installation in less-than-ideal climate or temperature conditions, use of wrong products for a particular roof type, and other contractor-related issues are just a few ways of how shoddy contracting work can be blamed. Poor contractor performance can lead to accelerated roof aging, premature roof wear, roof leaks, rapid roof deterioration, or more immediate roof failure. Making sure a qualified, reliable contractor works on your roof is essential.