6 Biggest Enemies of Your Roof

Knowing your roof’s enemies is one of the most important ways to protect and extend the life of not only the roof, but the entire building envelope.

Subjected to harsh climate extremes, environmental impacts, creatures and other stuff, roofs have a lot of enemies. We would like to share a few that we have come across with some suggestions for how to avoid.

Neglected Maintenance

Neglecting maintenance must be one of the worst things for your roof. Allowing debris build-up, clogged drains, vegetation, water ponding, and de-granulated membrane will quickly expedite your roof life. It’s suggested that a facility manager should do a visual inspection at least of the change of every season. It’s recommended that your roofing company inspect the roof every spring to ensure that it has suffered no winter damage.

Neglected Maintenance

Incompetent Roofers

The roof environment is not just a DYI; nor is it the place for incompetent contractors. So-called repair products from a local hardware store paired with an incompetent applicator will make for a very temporary result. Here’s why. UV rays and temperature fluctuation will quickly break down a temporary repair and leave the problem area wide open for the next storm. Check out some of our other articles on what you can do when a bad leak strikes until a competent roofer can install a permanent repair.


Many birds call rooftops home much to the detriment of the roof system. Bird droppings not only smell and ruin the aesthetics of any building but actually accelerate the roof’s lifespan. Bird feces contain high concentrations of uric acid that cause roof membranes to de-granulate so that they become more susceptible to UV exposure. This can be hazardous to the roof system by causing it to soften and give way to leaks and damage over time. This type of enemy is typically more predominate around bodies of water and highly populated areas. Your roofer will be able to recommend a bird deter system to control this impact on your building.


Ponding Water

Ponding water on flat roofs has a number of implications including reduced life expectancy of the roof, structural damage, leakage and possible vegetation growth. Backup drainage systems such as new drain installation or overflow scuppers can fend off water ponding and the associated repercussions.


Vegetation is often the result of soil/debris build-up coupled with moisture. Moisture tends to soften and weaken the membranes. Vegetation will only feed this moisture. Roots can interfere with the membrane and lead to severe roof damage and leaks. Keep the roof areas clean and free of debris. Address any developing vegetation immediately.

Snow and Ice

Not only can snow and ice be heavy and stress the structure of your building, but it can also cause major ‘freeze/thaw’. This is particularly detrimental where moisture freezes and expands greater than the elasticity of the membrane causing it to split. Because everything is frozen, you may not even recognize the problem until weeks later when the snow and ice begins to melt and cause severe roof leaks. To minimize the risk of snow and ice, it is recommended to monitor snow and ice build-up on your roof and keep the roof area as clear as possible.

Now you’re a little better equipped to fend off roof enemies. Make it a routine duty of your facility manager to inspect the roof area and you will help keep your roof system performing for years to come.