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Top 5 Common Causes of Commercial Roof Leaks

Top 5 Common Causes of Commercial Roof Leaks

Commercial leaks can cause significant damage, disrupt operations, and result in financial losses for businesses. Understanding the common causes of commercial leaks is crucial for effective prevention and timely intervention. In this blog post, we will explore the top five most frequent causes of commercial leaks. By gaining insights into these common causes, businesses can take proactive steps to safeguard their properties

Table of Contents

1. Open Penetrations on roof

Penetration on the roof refers to any hole that is made through your roof. Many commercial roofs have membrane-based material that can be easily penetrated with any sharp object such as a nail or knife.

Flat commercial roofs often feature a range of components, including roof vents, HVAC units, drains, gas lines, and pipes. These elements penetrate the roof’s membrane, creating openings or passages referred to as penetrations. Areas of penetrations should be properly sealed during the initial roof installation.

How Does It Affect My Roof?

Penetrations on your roof affect the integrity of your roof. Water infiltration occurs through the opening, subsequently traveling beneath the membrane until it locates a path within the building, ultimately leading to the occurrence of a leak.

Modified Torch penetration

DuroLast Penetration

2. Installation done improperly

A common cause of a leak is ultimately the material utilized not being installed correctly. It is important to hire a company that specializes in the material that you are installing on your flat roof.

How Does it Affect My Roof?

There have been many instances where we inspect a building and find that the roofer didn’t follow the material installation guidelines. Leaving the owner with more headaches as they are now stuck with multiple issues such as leaks.

3. Improper Drainage (ponding water)

First, Let’s talk about the importance of a proper Drainage system on your flat roof. 

With flat roofs, you have to play the game a little differently in comparison to your typical traditional residential roof system. A Residential roof tends to have a slanted roof allowing the water to run down your roof onto the gutters. On a flat roof, however, you do not get that luxury since you are dealing with a low slope roof (aka a flat roof). This helps differentiate between the differences in water drainage on a flat roof compared to a slanted residential roof.

Slanted residential roof

commercial Flat roof

How Does a Proper Drainage System Help My Roof?

If water lingers in one spot for too long, it puts excessive stress and weight on the roof. This becomes even more problematic if the roof is already older or compromised because it increases the chances of leaks. Moreover, the excess water can damage the roofing material, making it more prone to future leaks. Keeping a proper drainage system can help keep water from sitting on the roof.

If you are experiencing this issue please call a trusted roofing company to come out and inspect your roof to better help the direction of water to the proper location preventing the chances of leaks. 


Ponding water examples on flat roof

4. Poorly done Repairs

There have been multiple occasions where we go up to inspect a roof and we see repairs that have just been done poorly, causing a more significant issue in the long run. It is important to make sure you are resolving the issue on deck not just posing for a temporary fix or diy situation. 

Common examples of improper repairs in commercial roofing:

  • Band-aid fixes: Applying temporary sealants or patches without addressing the root cause, such as underlying roof defects or damaged membranes.
  • Use of incorrect materials: Employing unsuitable or incompatible materials that do not provide adequate protection against leaks or weather elements.
  • Lack of professional expertise: Attempting DIY repairs without proper knowledge and training can lead to improper techniques, ineffective repairs, and compromised roof performance.

poorly done coating

poorly done coating

5. HVAC System leaking

Checking HVAC systems for leaks is crucial for commercial buildings. It is common that a cause for leaks is not directly associated with any roof system but instead with the HVAC system. Certain areas of the HVAC system should be inspected to ensure effective leak detection. These include ductwork, connections and fittings, and condensate drain lines.

How can HVAC System compromise the integrity of my roof?

If the condensate pump in your AC system malfunctions or becomes dirty, it can lead to water leakage, potentially causing flooding in your attic or basement. The persistent presence of water creates a conducive environment for the growth of mold and mildew inside the unit, which can subsequently lead to clogging. By prioritizing HVAC leak detection and maintenance, businesses can enhance energy efficiency, maintain a healthy indoor environment, and prolong the lifespan of their HVAC systems.

Are you having any leaks on your commercial property?

Eric Hernandez

Eric Hernandez

Committed to helping everyone understand more about roofing!

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