When buying a new commercial building,there are a lot of things to consider when you prepare for your new space. Nevertheless, it is critically important that you inspect the flat roof before making your major purchase. If you have owned a flat roof for several years, it is still a good idea to check over your roof and know how to maintain it. Undiscovered leaks can be devastating and costly, especially in areas with irreplaceable paperwork or expensive equipment.
The first thing you want to do is check each room in the building thoroughly. Look at the ceiling for any stains. A leak appearing as a dark coloured ring will usually form around the saturated area. If you notice this, you will want to call a roofing contractor before proceeding. Just because you see a stain or water damage from a leak in a particular area doesn’t mean the leak is located directly above. Flat roof systems have layers that may reroute the water to another area in the structure, often many feet away. Water damage might be the result of a plumbing leak or another source other than your roof. It is also possible the leak causing the stain was already repaired, and the ceiling was not. To play it safe, it is best to hire a roofing contractor to locate the leak.
If you do not see any discoloration or other obvious signs of a leak, it is still a good idea to inspect your roof. Cracks could be forming that could soon become problems. It is better to deal with these before they cause any water damage to the building. It is a good idea to walk your roof and do a simple inspection. Be cautious and always remain mindful of your location on the roof and never walk backwards. Be careful around roof penetrations and don’t put any weight on skylight covers as they are not designed to hold your weight. While inspecting, notice how the roofing material feels underneath you. If it feels soft or unstable, immediately get off the roof as quickly and safe as possible and call a contractor. A leak may soak the insulation underneath the roofing membrane. If you sense a soft sponge-like feel to the roof under you, then you should contact a roofing contractor. You should also call if you see water coming out of any area of the membrane.
Next, you will need to check all roof penetrations and seals. A large portion of leaks are at penetrations and seals, which only make up a small percentage of the total roofing area. Roofing penetrations are the pipes and flashings that ‘penetrate’ the roof. These pipes and vents are usually encircled by flashings, or sheet metal. Be sure to inspect these penetrations for any cracks. At first, these crack may not be a problem, but as water enters in and freezes, the ice will expand in the crack until it is large enough to cause a leak. Seals are where two waterproof materials overlap or join together. Check these to be sure they are smooth and amply adhered. Still, other serious flat roofing issues include:
* Blisters : These are areas that appear as bubbles or a wavy surface. This could be moisture trapped under the membrane, but are more likely the result of an installation error. Ask a roofing contractor if a particular blister on your roof will cause problems.
* Cracks and Veining : Most often indicators of poor building construction or poor insulation installation. Even if the membrane was installed correctly, any shifting or movement inside the building could have caused a crack or split in the membrane. Generally , any flashing in this area will usually leak also.
* Movement: If the membrane has moved from it’s original placement, it may be due to the roof grade being to steep for the roofing material installed, inadequate application, or thermal problems. This would definitely cause ridges, splits and other roofing concerns.
* Damage : This goes without saying, if your roof is punctured or shows any signs of damage, report it to a roofing contractor.
* Shrinkage: Some roofing materials have a tendency to shrink excessively. This becomes an issue if the roofing materials are pulling against a penetration such as a plumbing vent pipe, or if the material has pulled away from the eave’s edge. You may also see “bridging” at angle changes such as at parapet walls.
If you have completed your roof inspection and have decided to hire a roofing contractor, be sure to get a number of bids to be informed as to what really needs to be done. With multiple bids, you will be more likely to pay a fair price for your roof repair or replacement. A roofing contractor may also be able to help extend the life of your roof and give specific instruction on what too do to properly maintain it.