Common Problems with Commercial Roofing

/ / Commercial Roofs, roof, Uncategorized

Commercial structures often experience a huge range of roofing problems. These issues are often a result of a lack of maintenance, aging or the avoidance of correcting minor roof problems including deterioration.

Commercial buildings that generally experience extreme harsh weather conditions, such as buildings in New Orleans, have the potential of developing a leaky roof, standing water, blistering, shrinkage, and other problems that need repair. Just ask any business owner that’s been through a hurricane!

Minimizing these problems requires routine inspection where the roof can be evaluated for any damage or potential problems that are about to occur. Common problems that are often experienced in commercial roofing include:

Faulty Flashing

All commercial roofs will have some type of flashing that is installed on curves, walls, and on every object that protrudes through the roof. This includes chimneys and pipes. The flashing is designed and installed to deflect water from the joints and seams.

The high majority of leaky roofs are often a result of faulty flashing. The problem often occurs by years of expansion and contraction from the changes in temperature. Over time, the flashing will begin to tear or break. Additionally, if the top of the flashing was not properly installed it can easily become loose which will allow the penetration of water.

Pitch pans are also a common cause of a leaky roof. They are typically installed to be an effective seal surrounding pipes that are protruding through a roof. When these pans are not maintained properly, or adequately sealed, water can run along the pipe and penetrate into the roof.


Common issues that can cause significant problems with the commercial roof are blow-offs. This is where a portion of the roof has come off due to wind. When wind moves across the roof, the pressure directly over the surface of the roof will decrease. At the same time, the internal air pressure can increase because of air infiltration, which eventually will create an opening or crack. This wind uplift can cause serious issues if the commercial roof seams have not been adequately cured on a modified bitumen roofing system that is cold applied.

Standing Water

Often a result of blocked or clogged drains, standing water can cause serious issues to a commercial roof. Any water that is allowed to stand on the roof surface can easily deteriorate the materials and eventually cause minor and major leaks. The standing water can also be a result of a poorly designed roof that has a minimal slope. Without the proper installation of crickets or tapered insulation, leaking can easily occur.

Often times, an air-conditioning unit that either is missing a condensate drain line, or has a plugged one, can cause significant issues and a tremendous amount of standing water in problem areas on the roof.

Surface Deterioration

Over time and long exposure to external elements, every roofing material will begin to deteriorate if left unprotected. The rate at which it deteriorates is often determined by the specific materials used during installation, and the types of conditions of exposure. Organic materials tend to deteriorate at a faster rate than organic materials.

Improper Installation

Another serious problem with commercial roofs is improper installation. The roof of the commercial building never had a chance for long-term survival, if the materials for the structure’s roofing system were improperly installed. Poor workmanship can be the culprit for a huge variety of roofing issues the moment the installation is done.

While certain roof leak repairs need to be expected, other roofing problems can easily be avoided through routine maintenance. By recognizing minor problems quickly, more serious problems can be avoided in the future.

Additional Resources

  • Click here to read more about emergency repairs for commercial buildings.
  • Click here to read more about roof damage repair services.