Tornadoes, hurricanes, high wind-speeds, hail, airborne tree branches… It seems that the weather is doing everything it can to stress buildings these days. And as you know, it is not uncommon for buildings to require flat roof repair.
So many issues in buildings originate at the roof level. And since flat roofing systems are a favorite of industrial and commercial builders, there is a lot of potential for building damage throughout most building portfolios. Leaks, blow-offs, ponding, shrinkage, and blistering, to name but a few potential problems!
Most commercial flat roofs are installed by professional roofing installation companies and are designed for long-term performance measure in years and even decades. But a roof can fail as the result of wear, poor maintenance, and of course, the weather.
Some of the most common flat roof problems include:
Leaking and Moisture Infiltration: Flat Roof Repair Needed
Moisture infiltration is the most critical performance failure that occurs in roof systems and it can occur for a number of reasons. Leaks can result when single-ply membrane roofs are installed with poor seams. Built-up roofs (BUR) might experience leaks due to flashing details that weren’t fastened properly during installation. Inadequate head laps and backwater laps are a modified bitumen (mod-bit) roofing installation problem that can allow moisture infiltration. Water infiltration can ruin the integrity of the entire roof assembly, including the roof deck, insulation, and structure so it’s critical to detect and repair roof leaks immediately.
Blow-offs and Tenting are often associated with poor installation. Hot bituminous roofs where flashing is poorly attached may experience open seams and laps and ultimately cause blow-offs, reduced puncture resistance, and code issues. If not adhered properly to the substrate, single-ply roofs are at risk for blow-off, tenting, and billowing.
Ponding occurs when puddled water remains on a roof from rain, melted snow and ice, large amounts of condensation from mechanical equipment, or from failed rooftop water storage. Ponding typically results from poor roof design, construction, or maintenance.
Shrinkage is associated with rubber roofs and can cause seams to delaminate and pull apart, causing leaks. It generally occurs when heat and UV radiation from the sun break down the membrane in a process called heat aging, causing hardness and shrinkage to occur.
Blistering occurs when a gas or water gets trapped within the plies of the roof membrane or between the membrane and substrate. As temperatures rise throughout the day, the gas or water vapor expands and pushes out on the membrane, creating bubbles or raised strips called blisters. Failure to address blistering can lead to a weakened membrane, failure, and leaks.
Punctures and Penetrations are exactly what they sound like – holes or tears in the roof system, almost always caused by humans. Although nature can sometimes cause punctures and tears, usually they are the result of sloppy construction over finished roofs, careless installation and maintenance, or foot traffic over the roofing membrane.
Regular roof inspection and maintenance go a long way.
To avoid having small problems turn into big ones, make sure that your roof is regularly inspected and analyzed for both current and future issues. If any problems are found, there are three basic solutions: repair, recover, or replace.
Let’s take a closer look at the three options and the factors that affect which one you choose:
1. Flat Roof Repair
Caught early, many potential roof problems are easily repairable. If the membrane has not been significantly compromised and has plenty of life left; the roof is well-insulated; and it’s critical to not spend any more than absolutely necessary, flat roof repair is the best choice.
2. Flat Roof Re-cover
Just because your roof is damaged doesn’t automatically mean it has to be replaced. If roof integrity has not been compromised and the insulation is intact, the best course of action might be to simply recover it. It’s less expensive and disruptive than a full replacement and adequate warranties should be available to cover potential future issues. However, it’s important to note that a roof can only be recovered once.
3. Flat Roof Replace
Sometimes it’s necessary to just go ahead and replace a damaged roof, especially if 25% or more of it has received damage or the insulation has become wet or otherwise significantly affected. On the bright side, full replacement will lower overall maintenance and energy costs while minimizing future problems and prolonging the life to the building.
To avoid the need for flat roof repair: work with a roofing installation and management specialist.
Every roof is different and every roofing problem unique – especially if it’s yours. Working with an experienced commercial roofing specialist can help you avoid problems from the very beginning. While certain damage may be evident on the surface, some underlying damage will go undetected unless carefully inspected and analyzed by a commercial roofing expert, particularly on a leaking flat roof. Proper roof asset management and analysis will provide peace-of-mind and protect one of your building’s most critical assets – your roofing system.
If you have any flat roof repair needs, call us at 800-567-0842 or email us with details for an estimate.