Quality commercial roofing systems are unbelievably expensive! An average 20.000 square foot roof can cost between $3.50 and $7.50 per square foot. That is if you are considering only the roof. If the project involves changing the decking also, costs can get as high as $12 to $14 per square feet.
So you can expect that after a building owner spends this kind of money to install a roof over their property, the last thing they want to hear about is roof damage. At the very least, they expect the roof to remain in good condition until the very end of its useful life.
And to their credit, commercial roofing systems do last a long time. Depending on the roofing material, type of roof, weather and the roof installer’s expertise, quality roofs can last 15 to 25 years. But by far, an essential factor in determining how long a roof lasts is maintenance.
What to Expect with Roof Damage and Leaks
A good roof may need replacement in less than 15 years if it is poorly looked after, warns AvalonPropertyManagement.net. But the same roof, if properly maintained, can see its usefulness stretched beyond 30 years. To get the most from it, owners of commercial buildings must regularly inspect to prevent damage.
A leak in the roof of a commercial building is big bad news. Businesses in the building are exposed to occupational safety issues, with the possibility of product damage or termination of business operations. The building’s structural integrity is compromised, and the owner is left contemplating the massive cost of roof replacement.
This is why commercial building investors are usually highly motivated to catch potential roof damage early and fix them. But how can owners tell if their roof is damaged and leaking?
Causes of roof damage
Before we list the signs of roof damage, it is essential to first explain the possible causes of the problem. This is because property owners should not merely wait around until damage occurs. They should know the probable causes of that damage and find ways to keep an eye on those factors, too. What are the common causes of damage to a commercial building’s roof?
- Poor drainage: Gutters direct water away from a building. They need to be cleaned regularly to maintain their function. If not, they will degrade and allow water into the building.
- Cut-edge corrosion: Cladding sheets usually have a protective coating that shields them from the elements. If they are cut to size during installation, but the exposed edges are not recoated, the sheets will start to rust. Over time, this can cause a roof to leak.
- Damaged roof lights: In time, roof lights become brittle and prone to damage. If they are not replaced and are torn by the wind, they can open a gash in the roof that exposes it to leaks.
- Environmental damage: The weight of frozen water and freeze/thaw cycles are particularly damaging to roofs. Strong winds and hail also take their toll.
- Aging: Faded and discolored cladding coating, and cracked and peeling cladding panels; a roof will experience these as it ages. If the problems are not addressed, they can worsen and result in leaks.
Interior signs of roof damage
Leaks in the roof of a commercial building are rarely visible. It is not often that a leak manifests as cascades of water gushing down inside a building. Most often, leaks are so subtle that they will go undetected for a long time. Thus, building owners have to be on the lookout for indirect signs of roof damage. The best way to do this is to inspect the building regularly for these signs;
- Stained ceilings and walls: These present as yellow or brown discolorations that appear on ceilings and walls. Depending on where they occur, they can be hard to spot. It is especially true if the stains are in a corner, a poorly-lit or dark-painted room. Furthermore, where the stains occur does not always indicate where the leaks are, because water tends to spread as it flows.
- Water pooling: It is an easier sign to detect. Water pooling on the ground in a commercial building usually indicates damage to the roof. But the water does not always occur directly beneath the part of the roof where the leak is. Even if puddles on building floors are a sure sign of roof damage, pinpointing the exact location of the leak still requires careful inspection.
- Odor and Mold: This can happen if a leak has been going on for some time, and water has had time to seep into the walls and floor of the building. It creates a perpetually moist environment that is conducive to mold growth. The resulting odor comes from both the water and the mold. Mildew is another sign that water is entering a building.
- Higher energy bills: Holes in the roof will reduce a building’s ability to retain warmth in winter or keep cool in summer. Additionally, water from a roof leak will penetrate walls and seep into the insulation. It further reduces the building’s insulation factor and pushes up its energy bill.
Quality commercial roofing systems are an expensive investment but generally last for many years. There are telltale signs when your roof system is failing, and many show up in the building interior. To get the longest life out of your roof, be sure to have regular inspections and maintenance performed by a qualified technician.
Contact Parsons Roofing Company today to learn more about commercial roof maintenance to keep your roof in optimal condition.