All types of roofing have their own sets of pros and cons. Even metal roofing, touted to be one of the most durable materials available today, can still be vulnerable to one or two problems. Commercial roofing systems are no exception. The only difference is that when problems occur on a commercial roof, the longer you wait to address the issue, the more you stand to lose. Major problems can even cause an entire building to shut down, costing you much more money than what a roof repair will set you back for.
When dealing with a commercial roofing issue, time is of the essence. Leaky and faulty roofs can be expensive for both you and your tenants to shoulder. In some businesses, roofing problems may even lead to broken equipment, lost hours, and decreased daily revenues. As a property manager, it’s important to recognize some of the most common problems that plague a commercial roofing system, as well as their primary causes. Let our experts at Done-Right Roofing & Sheet Metal Ltd. walk you through a few of these issues and offer you tips on how to deal with them in a timely manner.
Standing water happens rarely in sloped roofs. For commercial flat roofing systems, on the other hand, it’s a much more common issue than you might think. Flat roofs aren’t actually 100% flat. They still have a slight slope to allow rainwater to drain properly into the gutter system. Unfortunately, even slight variations in grading can impede water from flowing continuously, causing standing water.
Resolving Standing Water Issues
Make sure that your roofing membranes are installed correctly. Uneven application of membranes are the most common cause of standing water.
Contact your local roofing contractor for a thorough inspection of the roof as soon as you see the first signs of standing water.
Malfunctioning HVAC units stored on the roof can leak water that might pool on the roof. Make sure that your heating and cooling systems are in good shape to avoid this problem.
The only thing worse than standing water is when it starts to drip onto the floors below your roof. Call your roof repair professional as soon as you see any signs of a leak on your roof. This includes stains on the ceiling and nearby walls, as well as water-damaged wooden furniture directly underneath the leak.
Leaks can be caused by a number of things but for commercial flat roofs the culprit is almost always faulty flashing. Flashing is essential in any roofing system, but they are particularly crucial on a flat roof. Flat roofs are especially prone to water flow problems, and having effective flashing can help keep these issues at bay.
Solutions to Leaky Commercial Roofs
As always, it’s best to contact your roofing service provider first. The amount of damage caused by a leaky flat roof can get worse the longer you wait to fix the issue.
Regular maintenance and inspection is needed to monitor the condition of your flashing. Ask your contractor to replace heavily corroded flashing to minimize the risk of leaks forming.
If the leakage issues are not caused by flashing, it may be caused by the pitch pans. These are the covers that keep pipes that go through the roof sealed and waterproof. Pitch pans function similarly to flashing and must also be replaced as soon as they become faulty.
The seams where two flat roofing membranes connect can be prone to wear and tear. When this happens, the rest of the roofing structure can become vulnerable to water penetration. This can be mostly avoided by making sure that your flat roofing system was installed by a trained roofing professional. However, thermal cycling can also cause these seams to come apart. Constant expansion and contraction are especially harmful to rubber-based membranes. These materials can dry out over time, making them more brittle and susceptible to cracking.
Fixing Seam Problems
Seam failure can lead to major roof failure which, in turn, leads to premature roof replacements. You can maintain the integrity of your membrane seams by minimizing foot traffic on the roof. Try to limit movements only on the areas that need frequent access such as the HVAC units on the roof, and other roofing accessories.
Sign up for a regular maintenance agreement with your local roofing company. Seam damage needs a lot of monitoring and sometimes, the only thing that separates you from serious problems with your flat roof is one missed maintenance appointment.
Ice and Snow
Gravity does most of the work when it comes to clearing away snowfall on a sloped asphalt shingle or metal roofing system. It’s a completely different story for flat roofs. With no reliable way to get rid of heavy snow, flat roofs can suffer from two major problems during winter: the added weight of all the ice and snow, and the constant exposure to water.
Thermal cycles also play a role here as rubber and most other polymer-based membranes are especially prone to constant freezing and thawing. This leaves the material brittle which eventually might lead to massive cracks on your flat roof, which then leads to leaks, starting an entirely new series of problems that could result in roof failure.
Getting Rid of Ice and Snow
During winter, flat roofs will need frequent snow removal to maintain their structural integrity. Call your local roofing contractors for regular cleaning especially during periods of heavy snowfall.
Monitor the level of snow that is accumulating on the roof every day. A lot of roof repair problems can be avoided simply by cutting off the source of the issue right at the start.
Avoid foot traffic in areas where the membrane is showing signs of cracking and tearing. Contact your roofing contractor immediately if this is the case.
While flat roofing systems may pose a different set of challenges than residential roofs, they can still benefit from regular maintenance and vigilant monitoring At Done-Right Roofing & Sheet Metal Ltd., we can help you keep your commercial flat roofs in great shape all year long. Give us a call at (905) 875-2888 or fill out our contact form to schedule an inspection visit and request a free estimate on flat roof installations today.