WHAT ARE THE COMMERCIAL ROOFING SOLUTIONS TO THESE COMMON PROBLEMS?
Over the years, data has been collected on many different commercial roofs to help determine the most common problems building owners and facility managers face with their roofs. Through this data collection and the observation of many professionals, a list of the 10 most common commercial roofing problems has been compiled. We are going to look at each of these problems, and the commercial roofing solutions you can use to handle these problems. Below is the list of the 10 most common commercial roofing problems faced by building owners today:
Commercial Roofing Problems
- A leaking roof
- Blow offs
- Improper installation
- Disregarded maintenance
- Standing or ponding water
- Punctures in the roof surface
- Improper repairs
- Safety concerns
- Blistering on the roof surface
- Shrinking of the roof surface
There you have it. The ten most common problems faced by owners and managers of commercial roofs today. It’s no surprise that a leak is the number one problem. Now that we know the common problems, let’s look at the solutions to these problems.
Commercial Roofing Solutions
A Leaking Roof
The most common commercial roofing problem today, the solution to a leaking roof is different in almost every situation. If you have a metal roof, you may be able to patch or caulk the leak. Or it may be so pervasive that you have to replace entire metal panels to fix the leak.
If you have a foam roof that is leaking, caulk is usually all you need to get it patched. Most leaks on a foam roof can be repaired with a razor blade (to cut the foam to allow caulking inside) and a tube of caulk. The same can be said of roofs with a restoration coating installed. In the rare case that you have a leak, caulk is generally all you need to fix it.
Single-ply can get a little bit more cumbersome to fix leaks. It often requires tearing up the old single-ply material and applying and adhering a new roll of material.
Blow offs tend to occur after large storms with high winds, where the wind can get underneath the roofing material and life it up off the roof deck. Unfortunately, once the material has been blown off the roof, your only recourse is to replace the roofing material. There is no “repair” you can make, only a replacement.
The best action to take against blow offs is preemptive, through selecting a roofing material with high wind uplift resistance and stopping the problem before it occurs. The roofing material that does the best job preventing wind uplift is sprayed polyurethane foam, and we recommend installing this material to prevent wind uplift.
This is another problem where you typically don’t have a lot of options once it is discovered. If the roof is installed improperly and you can repair it yourself, you will make the repairs. If you can’t, you will call someone else to fix it. There isn’t a whole lot of choice for solving improper installation issues.
As with blow off, the best way to prevent this problem is to stop it before it occurs. When you hire a roofing contractor, hire one with a good track record, solid warranties, and a good reputation. Check their past work and their references, and you can hedge yourself against improper installation issues.
Unfortunately, this problem often leads to required replacement of your roof. If you haven’t been performing your inspections and maintaining your roof properly, by the time it is showing signs of wear and tear that raise alert, it may be too far gone for repair.
Avoid this problem by writing down a scheduled maintenance plan and stick to that plan. Making small repairs and corrections before problems become severe is the best way to make your roof last a long time.
Standing or Ponding Water
If your roof is constantly covered in standing water, there are a few options you can take. The first is to purchase electric pumps that simply move the water to a properly sloped area of the roof. This is not an optimal solution, but it is pretty inexpensive and it will eliminate the issue of standing water.
Your second option is to raise that section of roof. If you have access to the underside of the roof, you can add more supports and eliminate the low spot that is allowing the ponding water. This can be a risky process if your roof is under stress and you move it too far or too quickly, you could severely damage your roof.
Lastly, you can install water barriers that do not let water flow to or rain fall on the area that is ponding. This is probably the most work, but outside of replacing the roof area with a more level roofing system, it is the most effective method.
Punctures in the Roof Surface
A problem that can be patched or caulked, the best way to handle this problem is to avoid it. Don’t be reckless while carrying tools and equipment on your roof, and keep dangerous trees and branches in check to avoid falling items. Once you do have a puncture in the surface, it can be patched or caulked depending on your roofing material. Both solutions are mere “bandaids” for the problem, but they will stop any leaks resulting from the puncture.
This can be a problem created by the contractor, or by the facility manager not utilizing a contractor. Basically, the roof experienced a problem, possible a leak, and it was repaired but was done incorrectly.
The first step in the solution is to identify that the repair was made improperly, and then to undo the repair and redo it the right way. Many times, the repair is permanent and must simply be covered by a new repair method.
As stated above, this problem can largely be avoided by 1) hiring a contractor or roof professional to make your roof repairs and 2) making sure the contractor you hire is reputable and dependable.
This can be an issue while work is being performed on the roof or because the roof is structurally unsound. The key to any solution surrounding safety is to err on the side of caution. If lives are at stake, forget about the money and make it safe.
You can consult the OSHA guidelines for working at height while work is being done, and you can have safety inspections performed on your roof and building regularly after the work is completed. This is a good way to ensure your building and your people are safe.
Blistering on the Roof Surface
This is not a problem with all roofing materials, but it often occurs in single-ply roofs, foam roofs, and restoration coatings. The solution is similar in all three materials: cut out the blister and replace it with something. In a foam and coating roof, you are going to replace the removed blister area with caulk. In a single-ply system, you will patch the area with a new material, or roll out some new single-ply over the area. Blisters can often be pervasive, but they aren’t a huge concern if they appear.
Shrinking on the Roof Surface
Many times, the roof deck will shrink and expand as the temperature around the building increases and decreases. This flexing causes the outer surface of the roof become damaged and many times leads to leaks.
The most effective solution to this problem is a roof coating, which is elastic enough to stretch with the roof as it flexes. The coating maintains its membrane and no leaks arise. If you don’t have a coating, you will simply need to monitor your roof and make repairs as necessary due to the shrinking.
There are many problems building owners face today that are associated with their roof. Those in charge of the roof can wait for problems to arise and react to them once they see the damages, or they can be proactive, by hiring good contractors and making regular inspections and repairs.
The solutions for each of the problems above may vary in specifics, but one overarching theme is that being proactive, performing proper inspections, and making regular repairs can prevent or catch these problems in their early stages.