7 Signs of a Commercial Roof Leak

October 9, 2020

Your roof’s number one job is waterproofing. And while modern material advancements make it much easier to have a watertight roof system, weather, unintentional damage from workers, and lack of maintenance can compromise the system. It’s important to recognize the signs of a roof leak and act promptly to prevent widespread damage; repairs that aren’t addressed when they’re small, can quickly become costly. Here are seven signs you may have a leaky roof.

No. 1 Dripping

Rivulets of water, droplets, or a puddle on the floor are obvious signs of water infiltration. If the leak is sporadic, mark the location of the leak, either in its physical location or on a facility map or roof plan. The place the water is leaking does not necessarily mean there is a roof leak directly overhead, but marking the spot where water is exiting will help your roofing contractor with a leak evaluation later.

No. 2 Stains on the Wall or Ceiling

Ceiling tiles are porous and easily absorb moisture from a roof leak. The tell-tale evidence left behind are dried mineral deposits. These brown stains are hard to ignore. Call your roofing contractor. Once the leak is fixed, either replace the tile or paint it.

No. 3 Higher Energy Bills

R-value is a material’s thermal resistance. When insulation becomes wet, its ability to prevent the flow of heat (i.e. R-value) is greatly diminished. If a roof leak causes widespread saturation of the insulation, your building’s heating and cooling systems may have to work harder to compensate. This difference will be evident by increased utility costs. An infrared moisture survey may help pinpoint if wet insulation is to blame.

No. 4 Odor

A musty odor is a tell-tale sign of mold. And where there is mold, there is moisture. A roof leak that leads to mold growth means you now have two serious problems to address. While not all mold and mildew can be traced to a roof leak, don’t rule it out without a thorough investigation.

No. 5 Bubbles on the Roof

Water that enters the roof system and can’t escape turns into vapor when heated; this vapor pushes up on the roof membrane, causing a bubble or blister. If you’ve got one of these, you have water in your roofing system and will likely see the leak manifest itself inside your facility eventually.

No. 6 Rust

If you see rust on the underside of an exposed metal deck, the possibility of a roof leak is highly likely. This isn’t just unsightly, it’s also a hazard. Rust is a sign of corrosion and if not resolved, can impact the structural integrity of the roof deck, necessitating a costly replacement.

No. 7 Punctures and Plants on the Roof

If a visual inspection of the roof reveals either tears or vegetation, you’ve got a roof leak. Punctures to the roof system can happen when windborne debris is dragged across the roof during a storm or HVAC technicians drop tools. Any damage that pokes a hole in – or slices through – the membrane provides the opportunity for water to enter the roof system. If you can see seedlings sprouting, their roots have probably taken hold inside the roof system. It’s only a matter of time before you see the water inside the building.

At the first signs of a leak, contact your roofing contractor. They can perform a leak evaluation to determine the cause of the water and investigate the extent of the damage. Swift action can help to reduce the scale and cost of the necessary repair.

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