Common Issues with Commercial Roofing

Unlike most residential roofs, many commercial roofs often have low slopes, which can lead to standing water from different sources. As time goes by, this can lead to deteriorating roofing material and underlying structures. Standing water from rainfall is common unless proper drainage measures were taken during construction. In general, if water is still standing on the roof 48 hours after rainfall, then there likely is a problem with slope and/or drainage.

commercial-roof-rusted-hvacOften puddling may originate around the HVAC units installed on the roof because they have points of penetration. Furthermore, without proper and continuous maintenance condensate drain lines can get clogged and so the water never makes it into roof drains. The roof drains themselves can get clogged and cause the water to back up and form puddles on the roof. Consequently, the roof should be inspected after any storm where tree limbs and leaves may have fallen on the roof.

Problems can arise if flashing and sealants were improperly installed or have been damaged during wind or hail associated with storms. Also, ongoing expansion and contraction associated with temperature changes can cause separation and cracking, which may lead to subsequent leaks.

commercial-roof-solar-panelsOther potential sources of problems are areas of the roof containing skylights or solar panels. Aside from aforementioned flashing and sealant issues, damage may occur due to improper installation. Where solar panels are concerned, matching the expected lifetime of the panels to that of the roof is an obvious but sometimes overlooked criterion. If the panels were installed on an existing roof, it may well not have been designed to handle the additional weight and the foot traffic required for inspections and maintenance of the panels. Also, damage may occur during installation if the roof served as a staging area during construction. In such cases it is wise to inspect the roof structure often. In addition, large arrays are subject to expansion and contraction, which can lead to movement sufficient to loosen flashing and crack sealants.

High winds can blow off caps from vents and lift up roof membranes where weak seals exist. Any gaps in flashing may lead uplifting wind forces to dislocate the flashing, allowing water to penetrate the area and cause damage.

Heat is another enemy of your roof. Here in the subtropical Southeast, there are many sunny days with high temperatures and typically a roof undergoes substantial solar heating. This may cause blistering and cracks in shingles, tiles and other types of roofing that can lead to problems when the next storm hits. In addition, commercial buildings generate more heat than residential buildings and this heat can also cause damage not only to the roof but the underlying structures as well. That is why commercial roofing structures must have adequate measures to absorb and bypass the heat generated from the building.

As might be expected, commercial roofs are subjected to more possible damage from heat than is true with residential structures. They typically will have HVAC units installed as well as other utilities that add to the heat load. Consequently, it is important that commercial roofs be inspected for possible danger signs at least once a year. Depending on the climate, it may be advantageous to have the roof inspected twice a year.

Don’t trust your commercial roofing to anyone else—you can depend on us for getting the job done right the first time, on time and within your budget. Give American Roofing & Vinyl Siding a call today, or complete our online estimate-request form for a free estimate on your commercial roofing needs.


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