So, you bought a new roof. What now? New roofs, commercial flat roofs in particular, are an expensive investment and even though you should have a warranty, letting the roof sit without regular inspections is probably not a good idea and can lead to problems that may not be covered by that warranty. To avoid issues, it is a good idea inspect your roof twice a year and after storms to catch any potential problems before any real damage is done to your commercial roof.
Here are some specific areas to look at:
Ponding Water: A small amount of ponding water isn’t unusual for flat roofs. But if it doesn’t drain readily or seems unusually “deep” for the situation, it could indicate big problems and lead to leaks that damage the deck and what lies beneath. Standing water is sometimes excluded in commercial roof warranties so check for that provision when you purchase your new roof. Even if ponding water is covered, like with Duro-Last commercial warranties, standing water can still create problems and could point to serious building structure issues.
Penetrations: Leaks commonly occur at penetrations (pipes, curbs, etc.) – transitions between planes on the rooftop. It’s important that the flashings in these areas are securely sealed to both the horizontal and vertical surfaces of these transitions.
Blisters: Blisters / bubbles could be moisture trapped under the membrane or caused by an installation error. Small blisters are probably not an issue, but if they get bigger over time, they will need attention from a commercial roofing expert.
Membrane Splits: Building components – including roof decks – expand and contract with temperature changes. Sometimes, the force can be strong enough to create cracks or ruptures in the roof membrane. Obviously, this can lead to serious water penetration.
Punctures: Foot traffic, roof fixtures that have come loose, branches and other debris can puncture a roof’s surface – again, leading to water penetration. Removing debris and repairing loose fixtures can probably be handled by building maintenance crews, but the roof repair itself should be turned over to a contractor, in case there’s underlying damage.
Shrinkage: Some membranes can shrink over time due to several factors. It might be pulling away from the edge of the roof, or you might see the membrane “bridge” at plane changes such as parapets or curbs. Shrinkage is an indication that your roof is nearing the end of its life.
Your own informal inspections can identify some of the potential problems indicated above. Some, you may be able to take care of internally. But failures in membrane integrity that require more extensive repairs should be handed by a professional commercial roofing contractor.