The roof of a commercial building serves as the first line of defense against natural hazards like rain, wind, ice, fire, snow, and extreme temperatures. It’s also one of the most vulnerable parts of a building. Every day, it is exposed to various elements including weather, which might contribute to its decay and deterioration, and in turn increase the risk of damage to not only the roof, but also the content below it.
While many of the commercial roofing is designed in such a way that it’s durable in the long term, many roofs will still develop problems at some point in their lifespan. These problems can arise when the roof was designed incorrectly, installed wrongly, or when it’s not properly maintained. This article looks at how you can identify, and address the most common problems, prevent them before they even start, and to fix them correctly before it’s too late.
Identifying the Signs of a Roofing Problem
In case it’s been a while since your roof has been inspected, this should be the first step to determine and fix any major problems. Signs such as water stains on the ceiling can be an indication of a leak, which might be as a result of a hole or crack in the roof. Keep in mind that even the smallest of leaks can signal big trouble with the roofing.
Inspections can be done by the building owner, depending on the ease of access and the slope of the roof. However, in many cases it’s ideal to hire a professional contractor to make sure the job s conducted correctly and safely.
Ponding or prolonged standing water can eventually lead to deterioration of the cover and premature aging, which leads to leaks. Undetected leaks can cause rusty or rotten roof decks, and even turn the insulating gypsum and concrete into a paste-like substance. The excessive standing water can also cause additional weight, weakening the roof deck.
Trapped moisture can be identified as bubbles within the roof cover, which may cause leaks, speed up the aging of the deck, reduce the lifespan of the cover, and lower the effectiveness of the roof’s cover against uplift forces caused by windstorms. The release of gases from the insulation board can also cause bubbles, which get trapped under the cover. A moisture survey or a roof cut of the roof caver can effectively assist the diagnosis of this problem.
Should you Repair, Re-cover, or Replace a Damaged Roof?
Some minor problems on the roof can be easily repaired, and you don’t need to incur the expense of a full replacement. Repair is much less costly compared to replacements or re-covers, and can extend the lifespan of the roof. Some of the reasons you should opt to repair include:
• The roofing still got good insulation
• The membrane has not yet met its life expectation and is still in good shape
• You want to keep the costs at a minimum
When the roof is fundamentally sound with good insulation in place, re-covering is the most effective solution. If the roof has one membrane only, you can always put another one on top, though a roof can only be re-covered once in its lifetime. You can choose to re-cover if:
• The membrane has met its life expectancy but the roof still has good insulation
• The roof has never been re-covered before
Sometimes, the damage on a roof can be too much such that a repair or re-cover simply won’t be good candidates. If the roof has been re-covered before, then it needs replacement if a problem is identified. Reasons to perform a full replacement include:
• The insulation is wet or not up to par
• The damage to the roof is extensive; generally, if more than 25% of it is damaged
• As a long term solution and as a way to utilize the latest technology in roofing
Commercial Roofing Care and Maintenance
The ideal way of strengthening the roof’s weather resistance and avoiding roof related problems is regular care and preventative maintenance on the roof. Maintenance when done correctly can prolong the life of the roof and it will allow the repair of the roof in many cases as opposed to replacement when a problem is identified. The inspection frequency for the routine maintenance regimen will depend on a number of factors such as the rooftop foot traffic, age of the roof, conditions identified in previous inspections, and recent weather events.
Scheduling an inspection for your commercial roofing every 6 months (spring and fall) can be an effective way of making sure that the inspection is not sidetracked by the more pressing business matters.