How to Spot and Fix a Damaged Commercial Roof

While commercial roofs are constructed out of extremely durable materials, they’re not immune from damage. Whether it’s strong winds, heavy rainfall, or simply the passage of time, eventually you’re going to need to perform repairs. Since commercial buildings tend to have flat roofs, the risk of water pooling increases substantially. This is why it’s important to ensure that your commercial roof contractors utilize an effective drainage system on your building. Similarly, ventilation helps reduce the impact of snow. When heavy rainfall is combined with high winds, the risk of damage increases. The pressure from strong winds can lift off different features of a commercial roof, which creates a domino effect of problems. Finally, the simple passing of time is proportional to the risk of damage on any roofing system. However, when installed by a reputable roofing contractor, commercial roofs can last between 10 to 35 years. To help you better care for your property, here’s how to spot and correct a damaged commercial roof.

Common Signs of Commercial Roof Damage

One of the best ways to mitigate unnecessary problems and reduce maintenance costs over time is to keep an eye out for signs of damage on your commercial roof. Some of the most common indications of a problem include the following.

Flashing Damage

The flashing on your roof is responsible for protecting seams where two different planes meet. This is also the material that lines chimneys, vents, and roofing ridges. It’s an integral part of keeping water out of your building’s interior, which is why it needs to remain in good condition throughout the year. If you notice any signs of damage to the flashing, or if it is loose or missing altogether, it’s important to get it repaired as soon as possible. Flashing that’s rusted, shifted out of position, or twisted is a sign of a problem that needs attention. If caught early, repairing the flashing on your commercial roof is considered a minor repair.

Pooling Water

Since commercial roofs don’t have as steep of a slope as residential homes, water is more likely to pool across the surface. While there are efficient drainage systems integrated in commercial buildings, problems can occur, and the drainage can fail. Pooled water is easy to spot, so check your roof after heavy rainfall to make sure that things are draining properly. If they’re not, contact a contractor to avoid water damage and interior problems.

Signs of Water Damage

If pooling water or a failing drainage system isn’t addressed in a timely manner, you may begin to notice signs of water damage on the interior of your building. This can materialize in things like water spots on the ceiling or down the walls, cracks along the foundation, or even active leaks that drip into your building. If you begin to see an increasing number of brown, black, or green spores growing on the walls, you likely have a mold or mildew problem that’s caused by water damage.

If the damage isn’t visible, you may begin to notice a foul odor in your building. The smell is often musty and can spread from one area to another. Undergoing a professional inspection will help confirm the cause of these odors and whether or not the structural support has started to rot. Water damage can occur from problematic roofing structures or burst pipes, so it’s important to determine the root cause prior to attempting any repairs.

Lack of Ventilation

A lack of ventilation for your commercial roof contributes to water damage and other structural support issues. Ventilation allows moisture to escape so that there is an ongoing circulation of air. This reduces the risk of damage and can help keep your roof strong—especially during winter months. If you’re unsure about the ventilation levels in your roofing system, contact a professional.

Deteriorating Aesthetics

While not a sign of imminent problems, deteriorating aesthetics could be an indication that your roof is getting old. The older your commercial roofing system is, the more susceptible it is to damage. Some common visual deformities that you may notice with age include blistering, cracking, or bubbles forming underneath the roofing membrane. It may also begin to lose coloring and simply look outdated. Talk to a roofing professional about undergoing a replacement and revitalizing your commercial building.

High Energy Bills

It’s normal for energy bills to fluctuate depending on the season, but unless there are major changes to your building, they should remain fairly constant from year to year. If you notice that your energy bills begin to increase at an alarming rate, it could be an indication of damage to your commercial roof. The roof helps to increase the energy efficiency of a building, which is why undergoing repairs in a timely manner is an investment worth making.

Holes in the Roofing

Since commercial roofs tend to be flat and have various structures attached, it’s common for people to access it for maintenance of appliances and more. This can increase the stress of the roof membrane and lead to holes in structurally unstable roofs. Visible signs of damage, especially holes, should be addressed as soon as they’re noticed.

Rips in Roof Membrane

Many commercial buildings use ethylene propylene diene monomer (EPDM) rubber for the roof’s protective membrane. This synthetic material is durable, flexible, and offers a degree of protection from water damage. Any rips in this roof membrane can lead to compounding problems and increase the risk of water damage. If a rip occurs, or if you notice one during an inspection, schedule commercial roofing repair as soon as possible.

Correcting Damage with Roof Repairs

As soon as you notice any of the above signs, contact a professional roofing contractor. Undergoing a roof repair is far more practical than replacing the entire structure, but they need to be handled in a timely manner to avoid further deterioration. Minor commercial roofing repairs can be affordable and are a more practical option for property owners. Performing regular sweeps of your roof to look for damage is therefore, of utmost importance. This is especially true following high winds or a bad storm. If you’re not sure what to look for, hire a professional to come and perform inspections yearly and after severe weather.

When to Undergo a Commercial Roof Replacement

During professional inspections, the roofing contractor may find signs of irreparable damages. This could be due to external factors or simply because your roof is getting older. In these instances, it’s best to undergo a commercial roof replacement. This is also the preferred course of action if your roof has substantial damage, and the repairs will cost more than a replacement. However, this investment will ensure that your business is protected, and your building is secure for years to come. Discuss your options with your roofing contractor, ask plenty of questions, and determine which materials will help you get the most out of your new roof. When properly installed, the benefits of this investment are well worth it. Make sure that you discuss warranty details with your roofing professional to understand what’s covered and what’s not in case of further damage from storms in the future. You should also contact your insurance provider to discuss coverage details of your policy. Pricing for a roof replacement will depend on materials, the size of your building, and labor.

If your commercial roof is showing signs of damage, don’t hesitate to call the roofing professionals at First Star Exteriors. Even the smallest repair should be handled as soon as possible, as this helps you avoid further damage and reduces the cost of labor. Regularly inspect your commercial roof and keep an eye on the ceilings and walls of your building. At the first sign of an issue, First Star Exteriors can come out, perform an inspection, and give you suggestions on how to mitigate the damage. Our team of professionals have the experience you want and need when repairing or replacing a commercial roof and we’re always here to help you keep your roof looking and performing its best.

At First Star Exteriors, we believe there’s a perfect balance between hands-on, personable treatment, quality of work, and speed of delivery. That’s why we take the time to understand your needs and communicate effectively from the first quote to the last nail being placed. To learn more about our commercial roofing options or to get a quote from us within 48 hours, contact us at (479) 267-4800 or fill out our contact form today.

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