common problem areas of commercial flat roofs

Flat roofs are a great choice for commercial properties since they’re both energy-efficient and convenient. These flat roofs also ensure commercial buildings have ample space for bulky mechanical systems, such as an extensive HVAC system. Surprisingly, the style is often more aesthetically pleasing than traditional roofs. 

Flat roofs garner several unique problems, however, that don’t occur in sloped roofs. These roofs also require significantly more maintenance over the years. 

Here are four other common problems to take into consideration if your commercial building houses a flat roof.

Pooling Water

Unlike a sloped roof, water cannot drain off a flat roof without the right channels. This issue leads to water accumulation and a myriad of problems. Unchecked, the pools cause the roof membrane to break down, which leads to leaks and structural damage in the rest of the building. 

Water can also pool on a flat roof due to clogged drainage or a poorly installed HVAC system that doesn’t have adequate drain lines. 

There are a few useful solutions you can use to prevent water from pooling on the roof. The addition of a tapered insulation system, for example, will provide a slope which can shed water from the roof gradually. If you still notice regular pooling, it is wise to search for potential sources of water, such as leaky pipes and ducts.

Edge Damage

In addition to pooling in the middle of the area, it is possible to find water gathering at the roof’s edges. Improper drainage is the most common cause, and when water remains on the edge of the roof, it can damage the membrane, and even the building itself. Edge pooling can also be a significant slip hazard, particularly if there are workers frequenting the roof. 

Alligatoring

Erosion is a constant problem for commercial flat roofs since these surfaces are mercilessly exposed to the elements. One of the most common signs of erosion is alligatoring—this is the term used when the membrane cracks and starts to take on the appearance of alligator skin. Another sign of decay is blistering, where the membrane lifts, trapping air bubbles underneath the surface. 

While some surface erosion is expected, at some point you need to decide whether to repair it. Small blisters are usually not worth the time or effort, but more significant surface erosion needs to be promptly addressed.

Lack of Maintenance

Most people tend not to dwell on the state of their roof, and then forget to maintain the roof of their commercial property. Roof maintenance is essential to ensure your roof doesn’t develop issues that lead to roof failure. It’s worthwhile to spend the time on regular roof maintenance, ensuring it is in great shape and able to handle anything Mother Nature throws at it.

Conclusion

Flat roofs have a few unique problems, but most of these common issues have relatively simple solutions. As long as you’re vigilant and identify issues early on, you’ll never have to worry about a costly roof repair that requires you to replace the entire roof.

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