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Common Causes of Roof Leaks


If you own or operate a commercial building, you know that roof leaks are just about inevitable. Roofs last a long time, and they experience problems during that time. They may not be as certain as death and taxes, but nearly every single building leaks at some point. Better roofing systems such as spray foam leak far less than traditional systems, but even spray foam has been known to leak a time or two. So, what is the best way to handle roof leaks? To prevent them before they even start. And how can you prevent roof leaks? By understanding some common causes of them and fighting those forces.

Foot Traffic

Foot traffic is one of the most common and innocent causes of roof leaks. You might be on your roof performing an inspection, which is a good thing, but you can cause your metal roof to bend at a seam. You can step on a piece of debris that pokes a hole in the roof. Or, you might just walk on your roof too much and wear it down in a few places. Whatever the cause, excessive foot traffic can lead to leaks in your roof. So pay attention to how much you’re walking on your roof, and limit foot traffic when possible.

Dropped Tools

Do you have maintenance men on your roof fairly regularly? Did you recently work on an AC unit, or replace a vent? Any time you get on your roof with a tool bag and take tools out of it, there’s a chance you might drop one of those tools and puncture your roof. Be extra careful when working with tools on your roof. Lay down cloth, work only over a walk pad, use lightweight tools, and be careful when setting your tools down on the roof. Don’t slam the tools down or toss them, set them down gently. These precautions can help keep you from damaging your own roof.


Thermal Expansion

This is a big problem for metal and seamed roofs. When the the weather gets colder, your roof will contract. When the temperature goes back up, your roof will expand. This is called thermal expansion, and it means that fasteners can back out of their holes, seams can be pulled apart, and leaks can develop. This problem can’t be prevented (without applying a spray foam or silicone roof), but it can be minimized by inspecting your roof before and after winter. If you find any screws backing out or seams that look like they might be pulling apart, you can repair them before the change in season causes further damage.


These are among the most common causes of roof leaks that you must watch out for. Keep an eye on these issues, prevent them when possible, and you’ll help prevent leaks on your roof.

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