Common Problems and Solutions for Commercial Flat Roofs

The flat is great when it comes to a serene lake or a blank canvas. For tires and roofs, it’s a different story. If your business has a flat roof, you already know that it comes with numerous problems. However, there are also matching solutions. You just have to know where to look.

Problem 1: Leaks

Any type of leak is a problem so they should never be ignored. Even if they look small or only seem to be affecting the roof, it won’t be too long before they make trouble inside your building. Just one leak can make your ceiling look unsightly, produce mold and damage your equipment and technology. This is not the best impression to leave on visitors and could make your employees ill.  The majority of leaks are a result of faulty flashings or ponding water on your flat commercial roof. It could also be the result of inferior roofing companies that fail to install the correct moisture barriers to protect the underlying materials. These become too wet and heavy and can cause your roof to leak.
Solution –establish a preventative maintenance program to regularly check for potential problems and address them immediately. This should be done even if you have a new roof and should continue throughout its lifetime.

Problem 2: Inadequate workmanship

Poor installation can create a host of problems and significantly curtail the lifespan of your commercial roof. This includes improper adhesion if the roof is not properly dried and primed prior to installation and blisters if the temperature is not right. It is one of the most prevalent causes of future roof troubles.
Solution – only qualified professionals should handle installation, repairs, maintenance, and replacement. An attention to even the smallest of details and years of experience is a must. Your roofing company should have no problems providing a written inspection report, complete with photos, and explain the dilemma in laymen’s terms to ensure you understand. In addition, you should make sure they are accredited by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners.

Problem 3: Standing water

Anytime it rains or snows on your flat commercial roof, the water has nowhere to go. There are often also the additional problems of blocked drains, unsuitable slopes and not enough flashing around HVAC units. Standing water is classified as any water that sits on your roof for more than 48 hours. In even such a short amount of time, ponding water can wreak havoc on your flat roof and cause a multitude of dangers and difficulties. This doesn’t have to be several feet high in order to have an effect. Just one inch of standing water can put the structural integrity of your roof in jeopardy and lead to eventual collapse.
Solution – first, you must determine the cause. Then, direct the water off and away from your roof with the proper drainage system. You might need to add additional drains or insulation. If the slope is the issue, there are procedures and products designed to address and correct the problem.

Problem 4: Breaches and breaks

Just something as simple as too much foot traffic can trigger cuts and scrapes in roof materials. Installing new equipment could also be the source of punctures or penetrations on your flat roof. This can damage the substrate and initiate leaks. When this happens, it could even invalidate your warranty since, in effect, you caused the problem.
Solution – limit foot traffic on your roof. It’s also important to perform a visual inspection anytime repairmen or others have been on the roof.

Problem 5: Billowing, blow-offs and tenting

If the roof is not properly attached to the substrate, disaster can happen in the form of billowing or tenting. These problems are especially common on single-ply flat roofs.
Solution – only hire experienced, highly-skilled roofing companies. They will know the proper building codes and specifications to prevent this problem during roof installation.

Problem 6: Slips, falls and other safety hazards

Many may think that because the roof is flat, you don’t have to worry about safety, but this is untrue. Trips, slips, and falls can happen to anyone at any time. While these accidents may be most likely to occur if there is ice, water or other obstructions on the roof, things can still go wrong on a dry roof in nice weather.
Solution – it’s still essential for anyone who is on your roof to use safety apparatus and the proper footwear. Hard hats and safety glasses are also necessary for protection.

Problem 7: Inappropriate materials

Some roofing companies may try to cut corners and use materials not specifically made for your type of roof. Others might simply lack the required experience to know what’s needed and what should be avoided. This can lead to long-term damage to your roof.
Solution – do your research and ensure that you only hire top-quality professionals to perform any installation, maintenance or repairs to your commercial flat roof.

Problem 8: Insufficient maintenance

When you run a business, there are numerous issues that can steal your focus and cause you to push roof repairs to the back burner. These may include financial or time constraints. However, make sure your roof is always a top priority. Sometimes, we get into the habit of thinking that if it isn’t broke; you don’t have to fix it. Indeed, the squeaky wheel gets the grease and it’s easy to ignore something quiet…until it isn’t quiet anymore. Minor issues can quickly become major headaches. This can lead to premature roof failure.
Solution – you wouldn’t continuously drive your car or use your IT systems without continuous maintenance. Commercial flat roofs are no exception. You can avoid a majority of the problems that occur on your flat roof by catching the trouble early. Things like flashing that are slipping and patch pockets that aren’t filled can be seen easily and fixed quickly. Don’t put off small repairs. Waiting even a few weeks or months can make the problem much worse. Get regular inspections to ensure that you find these issues quickly and deal with them promptly. Experts recommend two inspections a year. This includes one in the springtime to examine any possible damage from the rough winter months and another in the fall to make sure your roof is ready for winter.

 

BLOG SOURCE: PECK BROTHERS | Commercial Flat Roofs: Common Problems and Solutions

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