Questions Answered: Commercial Roofs: How To Know If A Leak Requires A Simple Repair Or A Roof Replacement

A leaking commercial roof can be a property owner’s worst nightmare. Moisture infiltration can impact your customers, employees, inventory, and business hours. Whenever you notice your roof is leaking, it’s important to take immediate action to mitigate damage.

But one the most common questions we get from commercial property owners and managers is: Should I repair or replace my leaking commercial roof? Well, it can sometimes be difficult to tell whether a quick repair job is sufficient to get your roof back to where it needs to be or if a roof replacement is more appropriate. A commercial roofing contractor can help you decide which option is best for your property.

Signs of Commercial Roof Leaks

A commercial roof leak is when snowmelt or rainwater penetrates the roof of your commercial property. Water can seep in through even the smallest holes in your roofing membrane and cause widespread damage inside the building.

Knowing the signs of a roof leak can help you identify that something is wrong before the problem gets out of control. Here are the most common signs of a leaking commercial roof:

  • Dripping water: The most surefire sign of a commercial roof leak is the sight of water droplets or rivulets overhead or unexplained puddles on the floor.
  • Odor/Mold: A strange odor in your building could be a red flag for mold growth in the walls or ceiling. Mold grows in moist environments.
  • Staining: Extended exposure to water will cause discoloration on your ceiling or walls.

Common Causes of Commercial Roof Leaks

Unsealed Penetrations

There are various roof penetrations which you cannot avoid, including vents, HVAC units, gas lines, pipes, and other systems that come through the roof membrane. These are vulnerable areas for leaks and water damage if the seals aren’t applied properly during installation.

Damaged Membrane 

A commercial roof membrane is a waterproof layer. The roof may leak if the membrane is damaged by harsh weather, foot traffic, dropped equipment, and excess water buildup. Flat roof membrane damage often includes worn seams, blistered sections, tears, and ponding water.

Aged Materials

Most flat roofing materials last between 15 and 20 years, even with routine maintenance. If your roof has a decent pitch and is not covered by typical flat roof membranes, the lifespan may be around 30 years. Repeated weather events break the seal and expose the roof to leaks.

Poor Drainage

A commercial roof should be able to tackle water with things like gutters, scuppers, and internal drainage pipes. Any problem with the roof drainage system can prevent it from working adequately. Poor drainage can result in roof leaks.  

The Dangers of Commercial Roof Leaks

It can be tempting to ignore a roof leak or put off repairs over and over again, especially when your facility is large enough that it doesn’t cause any immediate problems. However, it is key to keep in mind that ignoring a leaking commercial roof can lead to extensive and more costly problems.  

If you notice any signs of a commercial roof leak, think about the following hazards before you ignore the problem and think it’ll be fine.

Interior Damage 

When moisture gets through the layers of your roof, the roof decking and structure will rot and become weaker over time. As a result, the structural integrity of your entire roof system becomes compromised, increasing the risk for a partial or full collapse. Too much moisture may cause discoloration and damage to the walls, floors, paint, and ceiling.

Interior damage caused by roof leaks is more expensive than regular roof maintenance or prompt repairs.

Electrical Shorts 

While electrical wiring is cased in moisture-proof coating, this is only true within reason. They protect against accidental spray or mild dampness. Also, keep in mind that the coating becomes brittle over time, cracking with movement and exposing the wiring underneath.

If the leak is bad enough and left for long enough, electrical wires and electronics may short out. Worst case scenario, they spark up and cause a fire.

Health and Safety Hazards 

It’s your responsibility as a business owner to provide your employees and customers with a safe environment. A leaky roof can hurt your efforts to do so in numerous ways. When mold travels via the HVAC system and spreads to other parts of the building, it can cause respiratory issues. 

Leaks can also trigger slip and fall accidents, exposing you to liability claims and lawsuits.

Repair or Replace Your Leaking Commercial Roof? Here’s How to Decide

Various factors come into play when determining whether a leaking commercial roof needs repair or replacement. To know for sure, it’s important to have your roof inspected by a reliable roofing contractor. However, here are some things to be aware of when it comes to fixing your leaky roof.

Leak Size

If roof damage is only minor, a replacement might be a costly, unnecessary expense. Roofers can usually repair and patch up small, isolated leaks.

If the leak is extensive and appears in multiple places, a total roof replacement may be necessary to ensure adequate protection moving forward.

Age of Roof

A newer roof is less likely to need a complete replacement. Repairs may be enough to keep it in functioning condition for as long as it is meant to last.

If your roof is approaching the end of its expected lifespan and is leaking, it may be a good idea to consider replacing it, instead of repeatedly paying for repairs.

Cause of the Leak

Your commercial roofing system is made up of many components. A leak could arise from problems with cracked sealants, flashing, or punctured membranes. Individually, these items can be repaired. But if most of these components are failing and causing leaks, you’ll, unfortunately, need a replacement.

Trust Red Diamond Roofing to Fix Your Commercial Roof Leaks

Now that you have the scoop on commercial roof repair vs. replacement, we encourage you to schedule an inspection with Red Diamond Roofing. We can thoroughly assess your roof, determine its condition, and offer the best approach to fix the leaks and their root cause. Contact us today for your free inspection. We proudly provide commercial roofing services to those in and around the Denver and Fort Collins area.

Posted in Commercial
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