Being a building manager is a little like being an interrogator: everything’s a question. Can hail damage a flat roof? What’s ponding? What’s the opposite of “nonchalant?” Well, maybe not the last one, but commercial flat roofs do create a lot of questions. One of the most important questions: Why is my flat roof leaking?
Three Causes of Flat Roof Leaks
1. Ponding Water
Ponding water on any low-slope or flat roof (and this can mean every type of large building — school, church, hotel, synagogue, industrial building, temple, warehouse, mall, library — which has even just a portion of its roof at a slope below 3-in-12) is probably the leading cause of water leaks.
Ponding is water which does not drain off or dry up within 48 hours of falling. Ponding water can be caused by several things:
- Clogged internal drains
- Debris in scuppers around the building parapet
- Low spots where insulation has been compressed
- Rooted vegetation (grasses, sedges, even bushes and small trees)
- Faults in the roof deck
Ponding is addressed by identifying the problem, removing the issue, and then repairing the roofing material. This may involve peeling back the membrane or finished surface to get to the insulation. It may involve work on the roof deck itself, within the building.
An obvious first place your local, friendly roofer will look is at drainage. Jammed strainers on internal drains can cause water to back up. Organic matter blocking scuppers must be cleared. Drains and downspouts have to run free.
More involved are repairs to remedy slope issues. This can mean reshaping or replacing insulation for proper slope.
2. Membrane Problems
Membrane or the top layer of a built-up roof can cause water to infiltrate. Open seams, punctured single-ply membrane, or aging surfacing materials must be diagnosed for water leaks to stop.
An important aspect of repairing a low-slope roof is matching the repair material to the existing surface. This is perhaps a leading cause of recurring leaks: the materials do not match or the method of adhesion is wrong for the materials. Initially, the repair holds, but if a cold adhesive was used when a heat seal was needed, the seam will fail.
3. Environment and Weather
The weather in Ohio is … interesting and varied. Heavy rains? Check. Harsh sunlight? Check. High winds? Sure! Hail? Routinely.
Your low-slope roof must endure everything Ohio weather has to throw at it, from summer thunderstorms to damaging ice and snow storms.
You can do nothing to stop the incessant weather issues, but you can prepare your roof to hold strong against them. Having your local, reliable roofer perform annual or semiannual inspections is a good place to start.
With your commercial roofer’s help, a little leak can get stopped immediately. A small open seam can be closed and sealed. Hail damage can cause dimpling, crazing, cracking, and other breeches which lead to water leaks. Routine repairs and maintenance can put a stop to the damage.
Three Reasons for Emergency Flat Roof Repair
1. Save your Roof, Save your Building
Emergency flat-roof repairs are calls to your helpful, local commercial roofer when prompt action cannot wait. This can be because of storm damage, new water leaks, wind uplift and tear-off, or human-made problems (think third-party vendors and their misplaced work boots or dropped tools on your roof).
Your commercial roof protects every other part of your business beneath it. When you get emergency roof repairs, you save not only the roof, but the building, its contents, your inventory, and your equipment.
2. Protect Your Investment
Perhaps your low-slope roof is a warehouse. You may think you are saving a bundle by deferring roof maintenance, but leaving roof leaks unattended does not make them go away.
A small roof leak always gets larger, and soon your merchandise in the warehouse is damaged. Your insurance company may not pay if they discover you neglected the roof.
Protect your investment by preserving your roof, even if you need to spend a bit more on a service call for emergency flat roof repair.
3. Keep Your Customers
Nobody — employees, clients, members, or customers — welcomes the horrid smell of mold and mildew. Nobody wants to be confronted with musty, stale odors and heavy humidity when they step into your building.
Maintain the health of not only your building but the people within. Maintain the health of your roof. Take quick, decisive action when water leaks threaten to bring on chronic damage and long-term health effects from rising humidity, mold or mildew growth, and foul odors. Only an experienced, trusted commercial roofer should be called for emergency flat roof repair. The work must be done quickly, safely, and correctly the first time. Contact us at Damschroder Roofing to learn more about our maintenance programs and emergency roof repair.