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Commercial roofs can be a bit like thoroughbreds: They are high performance but also subject to a variety of maladies. To prevent minor blemishes from turning into major problems, regular inspections and routine maintenance are essential.

For example, winter weather often results in roof leaks, frozen gutter drains and strain from heavy snow. As temperatures change, roofs expand and contract, which ultimately results in cracks. This can particularly become a problem in the summer heat, as the vast difference between the beating sun in the afternoon and the cool of the night exacerbate the expansion/contraction process.

When a roof suffers from a weakened condition, it becomes vulnerable to collapse during extreme weather events, and unaddressed damage from seasonal shifts can result in thermal shock and roofing failure. To prevent these expensive and dangerous consequences, commercial building owners need to hire a roofing professional to inspect their roof annually or perform the inspection themselves.

The following 6-point checklist reveals all the signs of commercial roofing damage that you need to know.

Schedule a Roofing Inspection

Your roofing contractor can complete an inspection that reveals any hidden problems. The inspection covers decking, surface membranes, roof vents, flashing, field tears, gutters and drainage pipes.
If conducting your own inspection, make sure to check on the roof’s condition at the start of the spring season, when winter damage becomes evident and can be fixed before the roof is exposed to difficult summer conditions.

Clear the Debris

Debris prevents excess water from draining off the roof. Branches, leaves, trash and other objects trapped in drains and roof corners are particularly troublesome.

Check for Ponding Water

Water ponding on a commercial roof is major damage waiting to happen. Eventually, the water corrodes the roofing structure, weakening it and causing mold growth. Even if the ponding water has since evaporated, there are telltale signs that part of the roof has fallen victim to ponding.

During the inspection, it is important to check for color changes or stains around drains, which indicates water has ponded there for a lengthy period. In addition, the inspection should test for slow-draining lines and blockages. When areas prone to standing water are detected, the next step is to check for underlying damage.

Check the Flashing

Roof flashing is the thin metallic material that surrounds roof features, such as vents, chimneys and skylights. Flashing routes water away from areas of the roof where it can do damage, such as where the roof plane meets walls or dormers. Flashing forces water away from areas where it could leak into the roof deck.

Flashing wears down, eventually resulting in cracks and crevices where water seeps into the roof deck. Cracks are especially common at transition points, such as where the flashing transitions from flat to vertical. These areas are under more stress and tend to fail after several years of inclement weather.

Check the Roof Field Cracks and Tears

The roof field is the main part of the roof and excludes the flashing and perimeter. Roof fields are subject to cuts and tears that allow water into the roof deck, resulting in structural damage. If a roof field tear is suspected but cannot be located, a professional roof inspector can conduct a “flood test” to find the source of the leak.

Examine Gutters and Drains

Ponding water is often caused by clogged gutters and drains, which should be inspected regularly, even if you have a PVC roof membrane. Though ponding water will not void the warranty, the roof can nonetheless sustain damage, resulting in inconvenient problems and repairs that can interrupt business.

Owners of commercial buildings with other types of roofs need to pay particular attention to gutter and drain clogging. Pooling on many types of roofs, such as asphalt, cannot tolerate ponding and will fail in a short time.

Inspection of gutters and drains and the removal of any debris prevent ponding from destroying commercial roofs.

Commercial roofing systems play a vital role in keeping your business running smoothly. When they are compromised, your business loses time, money and productivity. By scheduling regular roof inspections, you protect your investment in your commercial building and enterprise. By utilizing this roof inspection checklist, you ensure the smooth operation of your company. If you notice leaks, clogging or other signs of roof damage, contact a roofing professional right away.

MacDermott Roofing are experts in the roofing industry and have been delivering the highest quality and personalized customer service in the Detroit metro area for over 45 years. If you need your commercial roof inspected, you’ll receive a custom quote from one of our professional estimators who will help you to understand your roofing issues and solution options.

As an industrial roofing company, we maintain, repair, install and replace all types of low-slope and flat roofs for commercial, industrial, municipal, and institutional customers. Call us and speak with a roofing expert today!