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A Simple Guide to Preventing Rooftop Leaks

Posted by Art Valentz on October 18, 2018

In the early 2000s, the EPA released a study that showed 85% of commercial buildings had sustained water damage at some point, 45% of which had existing leaks.

While there hasn’t been a similarly deep study of commercial water damage, you can bet that the situation hasn’t changed much. Minor roof leaking is often seen as low priority—an annoyance that can be dealt with at a later time.

However, you can’t just wait until leaks become apparent on the interior. Anything from improperly-secured RTUs to roof penetration, extreme weather, excessive foot traffic, materials/membrane/sealant failure, improper inspection and beyond can cause leak-inducing damage.

Leaving cuts and tears resulting from these causes unchecked will only exacerbate financial consequences. That’s why it’s so important to proactively prevent leaks to your commercial roof.

Costs of Poor Leak Maintenance Multiply

Proactive leak prevention doesn’t mean you have to relentlessly pursue a completely dry roof. It’s an unattainable goal and you’ll waste plenty of time and money trying to make it work. But you can’t go to the other extreme and let leaks fester.

There are two broad ways to think about the costs of rooftop leak maintenance. One, you could proactively address potential damage to avoid leaks. Or two, you can react to damage and address the concern when convenient. More often than not, the reactionary approach wins out.

In extreme cases, you could have to replace an entire roof when a simple repair would have been enough if caught sooner. However, the costs of poor leak maintenance multiply in more nuanced ways than all-or-nothing replacements.

Consider these consequential interior damages and what they might cost you to repair:

  • Ceiling Deterioration: If left un-repaired, leaks will allow water to seep into ceiling tiles, causing them to deteriorate and potentially damage interior office space. Even a simple tear in RTU flashing can lead to interior leaks that result in much greater repair costs.
  • Employee Risk: Interior leaks can create puddles that put employees at risk of falling. It may not seem likely, but the worker’s comp costs that come as a result will dwarf the cost of proactive leak management.
  • Wet Insulation: Your insulation is only effective when it’s dry. Leaks can create damp insulation that increases energy costs for the building and provides breeding ground for insects and bacteria. Fixing insulation and exterminating bugs cost far more time and money than regular roof maintenance.
  • Aging Roof Materials: Think about the longevity of your roof. If you leave water damage and leaks un-repaired, you’re taking years off the life expectancy of your roofing materials. Even extremely durable materials like metal won’t last if leaks take their toll.

All of the unnecessary financial costs and lost productivity associated with these consequential damages can be avoided. And best of all, preventing the multiplying costs of leak damage is easier than you might expect.

Taking the Right Steps to Prevent Roof Leaks

Regular roof inspections are your first line of defense for proactive leak prevention. You’ll want a professional inspection every 6 months, but you can also take matters into your own hands with this simple checklist:

  • Inspect the drains and downspouts around your building to ensure they’re clear of blockages and draining properly.
  • Look carefully around the rooftop for any penetrations, gaps, and tears. Be especially attentive to penetrating RTUs and any flashing around the rooftop. Punctures in sensitive areas can lead to even greater water damage.
  • Check your vents and equipment to ensure seals remain strong.
  • Clear any debris and look for related tears in the membrane.
  • Always conduct an inspection after severe weather. Falling trees and hail can puncture the rooftop on their own.

When you make these steps part of a regular rooftop maintenance plan, you can catch potential issues before they become leaks that cause consequential damage. Combine these inspections with proper roof support systems, professional equipment installation, foot traffic control, and proper material selection, you’ll have a moisture plan that keeps your costs to a minimum.

Want to dive deeper into proactive rooftop maintenance? We’d love to help. Get in touch with us today to talk about your roofing needs.

Want to learn more? Contact us today. To learn more about PHP or to schedule a free rooftop support evaluation. Visit PHP online and submit a free evaluation request form or call PHP at 1-800-797-6585.

Topics: Press Release, Roof Architecture, How to

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