Commercial flat roofs have a long life because most styles can be easily and cost-effectively repaired. Eventually, though, the time will come for a replacement and it is important to know how to recognize when this is the case.
1. Ponding Water
Ponding water is the standard term for water that pools on the surface of a flat roof. In some cases, the issue is minor and you simply need to have a roof drain repaired or a new drain installed. If extensive ponding is occurring and there is no way to easily drain the roof, then it may be time to replace the flat roof with a new one. The new roof can be installed with a slight pitch to help ensure proper drainage in the future.
2. Seam Failure
A popular style of commercial roof consists of a membrane. These roofs are durable, but they do have one weakness—the seams. A small amount of lift or damage along the seam can typically be patched. Once the roof is reaching the end of its lifespan, though, the seams may begin to separate and a gap may form that will allow water leaks. Replacement of the membrane will be necessary at this point.
3. Membrane Damage
Damage such as tears and holes can occur on parts of the membrane other than the seam, as well. Small amounts of damage can be patched, while more extensive or repeated damages will require a roof replacement. Often, these tears are a result of neglect. Failure to perform annual maintenance on the roof can lead to membrane degradation. Bird droppings can be another culprit, as the acid in the droppings can eat through a membrane. In some cases, membranes become damaged during storms or as a simple result of aging.
4. Uplift Issues
A poorly constructed and anchored roof can suffer from uplift damage. This is when wind lifts the edges of the roof. This problem usually affects membrane roofs by separating the membrane from the roof decking. Bubbles may form in the membrane or the roof may completely come off. In severe cases, a flat roof can be ripped off entirely by a sheer wind. If your roof suffers from uplift issues, the entire roof, including the decking, may need to be replaced.
5. Hidden Leaks
Hidden leaks aren't usually a problem on membrane roofs, since the membrane makes issues easier to find. Hidden leaks are more likely to affect tar and gravel flat roofs. If your roof keeps springing new leaks and your roofer is having issues finding the root cause, it may be time to have the tar and gravel roof replaced or resurfaced.
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