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The Top 4 Threats to Your Commercial Roof’s Longevity

Posted by Art Valentz on January 12, 2022

Commercial roofs play an essential role in protecting the integrity of your building. As roofing is one of your most important investments, it’s only natural to want it to last for as long as possible. Unfortunately, most commercial roofs don’t end up meeting their promised lifespan. Why? Wear and tear will, of course, take their toll over the years. And while you can’t stop aging, you can slow its pace. The way you control how external factors interact with your roof and leave it vulnerable to damage will play a large role in determining its longevity.

The longer your roof lasts, the smarter your investment becomes—so it’s imperative that you pay attention to the factors that might decrease its lifespan and create a system of better roof protection. We’ve identified four main factors that can prematurely age your roof—and provide ideas for what you can do and which products you can use to mitigate these effects.


No matter where you live in the country, your commercial roof is going to be subject to weather-related damage. In the Northeast, your roof will be threatened by snow and freezing rain. In the South, you’ll have to contend with rain, thunderstorms, tornadoes, and hurricanes. In the West, high temperatures will bake your roof.

Every kind of weather can affect a roof differently. Both extreme cold and unrelenting sunlight can cause your roof membrane to become brittle, making it shrink and crack. Snow and wind-driven rain can infiltrate cracks in your roof membrane, causing mold and rot. High winds can literally rip the roof off your building.

Your roof itself isn’t the only concern. Most commercial buildings utilize rooftops to store important building equipment, such as HVAC systems, cables, and more. Pooling water from heavy rain or snow can leave cables and piping vulnerable to damage. Investing in cable tray supports helps ensure less trapped moisture that can cause unnecessary wear and tear to cables, which often results in downtime. A system like the one from PHP Systems/Design offers additional peace of mind with its zero penetration design for various types of roofs. A roof pipe support system from PHP is designed to account for thermal expansion without affecting the pipes.


People are by far the biggest potential source of premature aging when it comes to a commercial roof. That’s because the factors that could lead to your roof’s early replacement may be baked in as soon as your architect puts pen to paper, as soon as your contractor selects materials to create the roof, or as soon as workers start laying down the roof deck. Any inadequacies in your roof might literally be baked into the earliest phases of design or construction.

To prevent these errors, you’re going to need to be involved in your roof design. You’ll need to personally approve and inspect the materials for your roof to make sure that they’re of the quality you need. You should also hire a roofing consultant to make sure that your architect is designing a sound installation—and to make sure that their intent is being accurately communicated to the construction crew. This will help make sure that your roof stands the test of time.

Lastly, foot traffic from building occupants or maintenance workers can also age your roof once it’s built—crushing insulation panels or damaging the roof membrane. Using roof walkway systems to create pathways will help reduce risk of damage. PHP Systems/Design is the first and only provider of a system that does not violate rooftop manufacturer warranties because of the innovative zero penetration design of our rooftop support systems.

Rooftop Equipment

Heavy rooftop equipment—such as HVAC, piping, solar panels, generators, and more—can place stress on a rooftop and ultimately lead to damage. As the equipment’s weight sinks into a roof, it can tear membranes, crush insulation, and create depressions where pooling water can accumulate. Eventually, this can lead to leaks, rot, and even roof collapse. Utilizing equipment platforms protects the integrity of your roofing system and your equipment. Rooftop equipment support structures such as the ones designed by PHP can vastly improve the longevity of your rooftop.

If ductwork is supported with materials that can weaken, crack, or deteriorate over time, that equipment can shift or crash onto the roof’s surface, leading to drainage problems that can damage the interior of your building or result in soft spots on the roof’s surface—which could create a scenario that could lead to a fatal accident.


Finally, the worst thing you can do for your commercial roof is ignore it. Not many facility managers will intentionally do this, but in many cases regular repairs and inspections can get delayed and then the delays begin to pile up. 

The problem here is that problems with a commercial roof can spiral out of control quickly—and as we’ve mentioned, the factors above can overlap. You should never go more than two months without inspecting your roof, and you should always inspect your roof and perform repairs before a change in seasons. Developing a dedicated maintenance plan can go a long way in providing you peace of mind.

Keep Your Roof Young with PHP Systems/Design

Roofs age rapidly when you ignore the damage caused by the factors above. Your best bet is to be proactive instead of waiting for catastrophe to strike. Investing in a solid rooftop support system from PHP Systems/Design will make it easier to inspect, maintain, and repair your roofing structures.

Topics: Roofing Management

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