So you’ve invested a lot of money into your commercial roof installation, and you have high hopes that it will last you for years to come. This is true, but repairs will also be inevitable.
And avoiding repairs, even the smallest, minor ones, can wreak havoc on your commercial roofing system. Storm damage, wear and tear, and other issues require immediate repair to prevent water leaks, poor insulation, and more.
Today, we’ll talk about when repairs are necessary and attempt to answer the age-old question: “How much is it going to cost?” This should help property owners know when and how to repair their commercial roofs.
What Are Common Causes of Commercial Roof Leaks?
Most often, leaks don’t just happen for no reason on your roof. But, there are some common causes of roof leaks, and knowing what to look for can help spot those leaks early.
Punctures in the Roof’s Surface
The most common commercial roof repairs are those that come from punctures or tears on the surface. This can be caused by anything sharp, such as a tree limb, hail storm, debris dropped on the roof, or even just foot traffic across the flat roof’s surface.
One small puncture leaves the roof susceptible to leaks. Depending on the roofing materials, you must limit walking on the roof or loading large items without proper care.
Improper Sealing Around Roof Penetrations
Roof penetrations include HVAC units, pipes, vents, and more. These have to be there, and more importantly, they need to be adequately sealed. These areas require roof flashing and sealant to keep those seams around the edges from letting water in. If these are not done right, every roof penetration leaves itself vulnerable to leaks and damage.
Failed Roof Flashing
To reiterate the importance of flashing around roof penetrations, failed flashing is one of the most common ways water seeps into roofs (both residential and commercial). Flashing doesn’t necessarily last as long as the roofing materials, so it’s critical to check it regularly and replace it when necessary.
Old Materials and an Aging Roof
The older your roof gets, the more wear and tear it faces and the less durable the roofing materials become. Your roof won’t last forever. Most commercial flat roofs only last 10-20 years on average, with proper installation and maintenance.
It’s critical to get regular roof inspections and make minor repairs when needed to improve the longevity of your roof. Repairs can buy plenty of time before a total replacement is necessary.
Poor Drainage of Rainwater, Ice, and Snow
If your commercial roof isn’t managing rainfall or melting snow, it will pool on top of the roof. This standing water (and melted ice) can damage any commercial roofing material as well as compromise flashings around penetrations and joints between panels.
Correctly draining water and snowmelt off a commercial roof requires a slight slope, gutters, drains, and proper insulation. A roof that isn’t insulated right will not warm up enough to melt that snow and ice, which then can pool or re-freeze at the edges, leaving your roof at risk of leaks. Again, a good contractor will ensure this is done.
Poor Installation by an Inexperienced Contractor
Last but not least, commercial flat roofs need to be installed by a certified roofing contractor with plenty of experience. Roofs are complicated and can take days to weeks to install correctly, depending on the size of your commercial property’s rooftop area.
Also, always look for contractors who offer a substantial workmanship warranty to cover any issues due to installation. This shows they stand by their work, and if something happens on their account, you’ll be protected.
The First Signs That Your Commercial Roof Needs Repair
It’s impossible to control what happens to your roof, for the most part, so knowing the signs to look for is critical to keeping your roof in good shape and preventing severe damage to your building. Here are some of the most common early warning signs that your commercial roof needs repair.
Areas of Pooling Water
If you see spots where water pools or ice forms on your commercial roof, this is a sign that it’s not draining properly. It can also mean any number of other issues are on the horizon. Pooling water on your commercial roof can lead to massive leaks, rust, and rotting and put extra weight on the roof, leading to collapse.
Cracked or Damaged Membrane
If your commercial roof’s top layer is damaged, flaking, or peeling away in places, it will need to be repaired immediately. These cracks and tears can let water seep into the membrane, causing costly leaks to repair. If these membranes aren’t replaced when they’re cracked or torn, your commercial roof won’t work to its full ability and puts your building at risk of further damage.
Blistered or Bubbling on the Roof’s Surface
Blisters on your roof’s surface are a result of high humidity, heat, and extended exposure. Bubbling or blistering in the roofing surface might occur as a consequence of any of these things. Blisters allow moisture to enter your facility’s roof, which can lead to significant damage to the roof’s structure. If left unaddressed and untreated, your business’s roof will be left susceptible to holes, leaks, mold growth, and look unsightly.
High Energy Bills
The roof is one of the first places that heat (and cold) will escape from your building. A poorly insulated or leaky roof will cause heating and cooling bills to rise. This is because your HVAC system has to work twice as hard to moderate the building’s temperature. If you notice higher-than-normal energy bills, get a roofing inspection right away.
Signs of poor roof drainage look like water pooling or standing in places on the roof, ice dams, clogged gutters, or leaks on the edges of the roof. Your roof should be able to cleanly allow water and snowmelt to flow to the roof’s edges and safely down the gutters and downspouts. Without this system working together, you face detrimental damage and leaks.
How Much Do Commercial Roof Repairs Cost?
Flat roofs, in general, are often relatively affordable per square foot, making repairs a pretty easy investment to make when they arise.
Generally, the cost of a commercial built-up roof is between $5.50 and $8.50 per square foot in materials and labor. This price can fluctuate quite a bit, however, depending on the material you choose.
For example, the average cost for rubber roof repairs is around $400, covering labor and materials for a roofing square-sized repair. That is a fantastic deal in the grand scheme of things and can ensure you get years more out of your roof.
The commercial flat roofing material of choice, TPO (thermoplastic polyolefin), is quite affordable and the lowest of all commercial roofs. The average cost for a commercial TPO repair can be as low as $150 per square foot, with labor on top of that.
And EPDM roofs can cost around $200-$350 per square foot, making repairs easy to get and beneficial in the long run.
As you can see from these examples, commercial roofs are relatively affordable and well worth the investment for your business. While commercial roofing is an expensive investment during the initial installation, minor repairs can be a great way to maintain your roof, protect your business, and save up for your inevitable roof replacement in the future.
Other Things to Watch Out For
Some commercial roofing systems are more vulnerable to specific problems than others, but you should always be on the lookout for these signs of damage or issues that can quickly spiral out of control.
- High-pitched commercial roofs. High-pitched roofs won’t be ideal for a commercial business and require a lot more maintenance (and costly maintenance at that).
- Heavy foot traffic on your commercial flat roof. It can really wreak havoc on your flat roof materials if there is constant walking via maintenance people or employees on the roof. Make sure to designate clear walkways that are reinforced to handle it.
- Commercial roofs with metal panels that cool off very quickly in the evenings will be prone to cracking when it heats up during the day again. This is especially true on commercial roofs where there is solar exposure or reflective panels.
- Rubber panels that have bubbles or are cracked should be repaired immediately to prevent further damage and leaks from occurring underneath the damaged part of the roofing system.
- If your roof is over ten years old, you should be on the lookout for repairs. You should get a roofing inspection that can determine the condition of your roof and a plan of action for either repairs or a replacement.
Commercial Roof Repair — When Do You Need It?
So, when do you know it’s time for commercial roof repairs? The signs are pretty straightforward, and if you take care of your commercial roofing system, it should be able to last for a while.
While repairs can be a great way to maintain your roof through its life, putting them off for too long can cause irreparable damage to your roof, your building’s structure, and the building’s interior. Regular inspections can be vital to mitigating that risk. And if you find yourself making a lot of repairs on your commercial roof, it might be time for a total roof replacement to start fresh and new.
When the time comes for roof repairs, make sure to call the experienced team at Gouge Quality Roofing, and we can ensure you get a solid roof to last you years to come.