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8 Common Commercial Roof Problems

Commercial roof problems are unavoidable. It is inevitable that something goes wrong. Leaves might collect and clog your drains. Strong winds might pick-up or blow-off roofing material. Holes might develop from excessive expanding and contracting.

If you ignore these problems, they can lead to bigger, more costly repairs.

Below are the 8 most common commercial roof problems we've encountered. If you notice any of these, please contact us right away for a free inspection and estimate.

a commercial roof with pvc membrane

Lack of Maintenance

The most common commercial roof problem we encounter is a lack of maintenance. Even if nothing major happens, such as a tree branch falls onto your roof and punctures it, have the roof inspected regularly. If problems are found, repair those problems immediately.

For example, after testing the PVC membrane on this commercial roof, we determined it needed a new coat. Had this roof been ignored, the entire PVC membrane would need to be replaced, which would cost a lot more than the coating.

Poor Installation

Every roofing project should start with a professional and proper installation. A poorly installed roof increases the likelihood of problems. Furthermore, an improperly installed roof reduces the lifespan of it. For example, a properly installed PVC roof should last around 20 years. (see our Commercial Roofing Guide) However, if improbably installed, the lifespan is greatly reduced.

Improper Roofing Materials

Using improper roofing materials can also cause big problems. For example, restaurants should have a PVC roof because it is resistant to animal fats and grease. If that same roof had an EPDM membrane, that membrane begins to breakdown immediately when grease hits it.

Standing Water

Standing water on flat commercial roofs is quite common. Leaves blow onto roofs, build-up and clog drains. Birds build nests on roofs and block drains.

Another common commercial roof problem we see that leads to standing water on roofs is poor roof design or installation. Sometimes the pitch or roof angle isn't enough for water, such as from rain or air conditioning units, to flow towards the drains. If this is the case, standing water can deteriorate the roof and cause leaks.

Blow-offs

Wind uplift causes roof blow-offs. This happens when wind hits the side your building and continues over the top. Space created between the moving wind and the roof creates suction. This suction pulls weak roof materials off. Therefore, it is very important to apply roofing materials correctly and allow them to cure fully.

wind uplift creating suction and pulling roofing material off of roof

wind uplift creating suction and pulling roofing material off of roof

Punctures

Foot traffic is the most common culprit of punctures to single-ply roofing systems. When people walk on the roof, aggressive soles can tear through membranes. Walking on a ballasted roof can puncture the membrane.

Shrinkage

Roofing materials, especially metal, expand and contract with the heat and cold. Metal drip edges and flashing can significantly change in size from one season to the next. As the metal expands and contracts, joints can break and holes can develop creating a leak.

Damaged Flashing and Pitch Pans

These deflect water from seams and joints, and are installed on walls, curbs, and around objects protruding from the roof, such as pipes and chimneys. Most roof leaks are from flashing improperly installed.

Another cause of damaged flashing is from expansion and contraction of the metal material. As mentioned above, metal can expand and contract significantly. When this happens, hole can develop at seems or the metal itself can tear creating a water leak.

Improperly terminated flashing can also allow water to get in under your roof.

Summary

Have your commercial roof inspected on a regular basis. For example, at least once a year. We are happy to inspect your roof for free, so you have nothing to lose. If we find nothing wrong, we'll let you know. If we find problems, we'll let you know that, too, and provide a free estimate.

Don't wait until there's a major problem with your roof. Some minor roof repairs can happen same day, and will definitely cost less if taken care of immediately.

Contact us if we can help.

Are you a business owner or commercial roofing contractor? What common roofing problems have you encountered? Leave a comment below.

4 Comments

  1. Rochell Smith on March 20, 2019 at 11:37 am

    Informative Post. Keep it up and make posts like these. Thanks!

    • Cameron Way on March 20, 2019 at 12:22 pm

      Thanks, Rochell. Will do.

  2. Tyler Johnson on April 18, 2019 at 11:44 am

    That’s good to know that when people walk on the roof that it can start to tear through the membrane a little bit. I would think that would make it easier for water to get in and cause some damage. I’ll have to stop people from walking on the roof.

  3. Nathan Peavey on July 26, 2019 at 9:59 am

    Great post! We have our own blog post on the same topic although yours is more detailed. Anyways, keep up the good posts!

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