4 Common Causes for Commercial Roof Leaks

Kathleen Maxwell

commercial roof with a drain sticking out towards the sky leaving it vulnerable to roof penetration

Commercial roof leaks can cause significant damage to your building if left untreated. But, how do they happen in the first place? The wear and tear on your roof over time creates numerous opportunities for water to seep in. And even minor damages can create extensive vulnerabilities. 

Your first step in preventing leaks is to be aware of what causes them most often. When your commercial roof is damaged or worn, and leaks occur, it’s usually because of one of these four factors. 

Material Damage

Damage to your roof’s materials, primarily the membrane or flashing, can cause leaks if they are not identified and fixed promptly. To give you insight into why these elements are so important: the membrane is the outer covering that protects your roof, and the flashing protects the membrane’s edges. Because these are two of the primary components that protect your roof from the elements, any damage to their integrity can lead to leaks. Without proactive roof maintenance, these materials can crack, expand, or shrink, allowing for water to find its way in.  

Open Penetrations

Anything that penetrates a roof’s membrane (HVAC units, vents, drains, pipes, etc.) can make your roof vulnerable to damage when they are not correctly installed or sealed. Penetrations should be inspected and sealed to prevent structural damage to your building

Age of the Roof

Your roof’s lifespan is a significant factor in leaks. Commercial roofs generally last for around 15 to 20 years, but as your roof ages, it becomes more susceptible to damage. In addition, damages that may have gone unnoticed will become worse as the roof ages, creating leaks in the future. Preventative maintenance can help you stay ahead of minor damages and repairs as they come up, which can extend the roof’s lifespan considerably. 

Clogged Drainage Points

Clogged roof drains, gutters, downspouts, and other drainage points can cause water build-up on the roof system. When these points are clogged, the water will eventually find a way to enter the building, resulting in a leak. By keeping the drainage points clear of debris, you can help to promote a water-tight roof system and prevent leaks and other costly damages.

How to Prevent Leaks

The best way to prevent leaks in your commercial roofing system is to schedule consistent appointments with a commercial roofing company. Proactive inspections and maintenance go a long way in finding and repairing minor damages before they become more severe and expensive. 

Before you notice a leak in your building’s roof, ensure that you know your roofing company’s process. Is there an emergency hotline you can call? How quickly can they repair a leak? These questions are crucial because once you notice a leak, time is of the essence. The sooner you can take care of the issue, the less potential there is for damage to your building.  

Contact Maxwell Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc. today to learn how our MAXCare® program helps you prevent leaks by staying up-to-date on your commercial roof’s preventative maintenance.


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