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September 01, 2017

Leaks Caused by Roof Problems? Not Always...

Commercial buildings are complex structures, with many different systems that work together to ensure complete building integrity. When one of those systems fails or is compromised, it can affect other components.

 commercial roof leaks not always a roof problem

As discussed previously, doing periodic maintenance checks of your roof can help ensure that it remains watertight. But despite your best efforts, you may discover evidence of unwanted moisture within your building. Your first reaction might be that there is a problem with the roof that you missed. However, that isn’t necessarily the case.

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Not long ago, Royalty installed a new roof for a commercial customer. After a few weeks and a couple heavy downpours, the facility manager noticed water entering the building from near the roof line. Initially, he thought it was because of a roof problem, and notified us of the situation. When we sent a technician to investigate, it turned out that the water was coming from a leaking internal sprinkler line, not the roof.

The biggest source of leaks that aren’t the result of roof problems are from HVAC units. HVAC units condense moisture from the air and when that moisture is not drained and routed properly or the HVAC unit isn’t insulated sufficiently (enabling condensation to occur inside the unit, hidden from the outside), moisture can penetrate the building. Although happening on the roof, technically these aren’t roofing problems.

Another indicator of moisture not from roof leaks is efflorescence – that white or grayish substance that sometimes appears on concrete and cinderblock. It’s caused when soluble salts and other minerals come to the surface, brought by low temperatures, moist conditions, condensation, rain, dew and other factors. A problem? Possibly – but not necessary from roofing issues.

The issues mentioned above should probably be handled by trade professionals other than a roofer. Other potential causes of rooftop leaks are skylights, plumbing, electrical equipment or other things that are not sealed or flashed properly with the roof surface. These areas can probably be taken care of by a commercial roofing contractor.

Determining the exact cause of a leak can save you money. Assuming a leak is a roof problem and calling a roofing contractor may add extra expenses to the repair, as a roofer may not be the professional that’s needed.


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