Common Causes of Commercial Roof Leaks

A commercial roof leak can wreak havoc on your Charlotte business. No customer wants to see drip buckets full of murky water nor do they want to smell musty odors. A roof leak can also damage expensive merchandise and equipment.

Learn how to prevent leaks from damaging your business – this article discusses some of the signs that you have a damaged roof and the most common causes of them. To avoid disaster, you must call a professional as soon as you notice signs of a leaky roof.

The roofing experts at Vision Roofing can assess what’s contributing to the leak and, if caught early enough, make repairs before the damage leads to serious structural issues. This will save you thousands of dollars and allow you to continue doing what you do best – whether that’s selling insurance or building websites.

Signs of a Leaking Commercial Roof

The most obvious sign of a leaking commercial roof is water that’s visibly entering your building. This water may puddle on the floor or drip down the walls.

Other signs that your commercial building in Charlotte has roof damage include:

  1. Stained Ceilings & Walls

Extended exposure to water will discolor the ceiling tiles in your office suite. Water can also drip down the walls, turning the sheetrock brown.

  1. Visible Mold

If the leak rages on, mold can begin to grow. Mold is often blackish or greenish in color and tends to first collect in the corners of rooms.

  1. Musty Odors

Even if you can’t see mold, you can sometimes smell it. Mold often smells musty, stale, and earthy and persists despite air fresheners.

10 Common Causes of Commercial Roof Leaks

So, your retail space is full of drip buckets. Now what? If you have a commercial roof leak, you should call a roofing contractor immediately. These industry professionals can quickly identify the cause of your leak.

In Charlotte, the ten most common causes of commercial roof leaks are:

  1. Poor Drainage

Since most commercial buildings have flat roofs, contractors install rather extensive drainage systems. These systems consist of interior drains, gutters, downspouts, and scuppers. When one of these components fails – or is clogged by leaf debris – water can begin “ponding” on your roof.

Pooling water can leak through the roof membrane, causing mold and other issues. But this water can also add considerable weight to your building structure. In some situations, this extra weight causes ceilings to collapse.

  1. Open Penetrations

Roof penetrations are HVAC units, vents, drains, pipes, gas lines, and other systems that come through the roof membrane. If these areas aren’t sealed properly, they can cause leaks. Fortunately, open penetrations can easily be fixed with caulking or sealant.

  1. Damaged Roof Membrane

The membrane of a commercial roof is the waterproof layer. This layer is often made of tar and gravel or polyurethane. Though the roof membrane will naturally degrade over time, it can also be damaged by weather and foot traffic.

Depending on the extent of the damage, roofers can apply a quick patch. However, in some cases, a new membrane will need to be applied to the entire roof.

  1. Improperly Installed Roof Flashings

Roof flashing is a thin metal material that is installed in conjoining areas, like places where a chimney meets roofing. This helps direct water away from vulnerable spots that are liable to leak.

Unfortunately, when flashing isn’t installed correctly or when it has been degraded by weather, leaking can occur. This leaking can damage the underlying insulation, electrical systems, and even structural supports.

  1. Poor Roof Ventilation

In commercial buildings, ventilation systems are installed on the roof. These roof vents allow the heat that gets trapped in the uppermost parts of the building to escape while simultaneously blocking the entrance of cold air.

When working correctly, roof vents allow for much-needed airflow. However, these systems can also trap warm, humid air. When this air condenses, it causes water to drip into the building.

  1. Faulty Skylights

Though skylights add brightness to commercial spaces, they can contribute to a leaky roof. In some cases, the flashing around the skylight can be damaged. In other cases, the skylight itself can be damaged or improperly installed.

Depending on the situation, your roofer may suggest that you hire a general contractor to replace the skylight in your commercial building.

  1. Tree Debris

Did the ceiling of your storefront start dripping after a big storm? If so, organic debris could be to blame.

When tree limbs, sticks, and leaves build up on a commercial roof, the matter prevents water from flowing off the roof correctly. Water will pool around the debris, eventually seeping into the structure of the building.

  1. Snow & Ice Buildup

If you live in a cold climate, your roof could be leaking because of something called an “ice dam.” An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof. This ridge prevents melting snow from draining off the roof.

A roof rake can be used to remove the excess snow and ice. But a longer-term solution is to better insulate the ceiling of your commercial building. When the ceiling is thoroughly insulated, it helps to maintain uniform roof surface temperatures.

  1. Wildlife Infestation

The tiniest of critters can cause big problems when it comes to commercial roof leaks. Animals like mice, rats, raccoons, and even possums are known to chew through roofing material, creating an access point. As they continuously use this “door,” the hole will get bigger and bigger.

In these situations, your roofer will mend the access point. From there, you will need to call an exterminator.

  1. Roof Age

Most commercial roofs are guaranteed to last between 15 and 20 years. Of course, this lifespan depends on the type of material installed, as well as how the roof was maintained.

If your roof has gone decades without a visit from a roofer, it may be overdue for an upgrade. A roofing contractor can determine if your building needs to be completely reroofed or if a simpler, more affordable fix is appropriate.

Hire a Commercial Roofing Contractor in Charlotte

A leaky roof can be disastrous for a Charlotte commercial building. Water can damage expensive machinery and inventory and even force you to close your storefront for weeks on end. That’s why it’s so important to hire an experienced roofing contractor.

Reputable roofing companies like Vision Roofing can identify the cause of your commercial roof leak and then create an action plan for resolving the problem. As a local Charlotte company, Vision Roofing also offers routine roof maintenance so that you can avoid common roofing issues.

If you’re interested in learning more about our services in Charlotte, contact us online or call 704-312-8558 for a free roof inspection.

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