Our Commercial Roof Is Leaking. Should We Patch It? Seal It? Or Replace the Roof?
A number of factors determine the answer to that question:
- the age and integrity of the roof itself
- the condition of seams, flashings, underlayment and gutters
- the size and location of the leak
- and our Colorado Climate, which makes roofs more susceptible to UV damage from the sun, hail damage, wind damage and an atypical freeze/thaw cycle caused by warm sunny winter days and cold winter nights at mile altitude
An experienced Denver commercial roofing contractor can walk the roof, assess both the obvious damage and the more subtle contributing factors and recommend the best solution.
Patching can be a good solution, if the rest of the roof is structurally sound, the leak is small and its source is accurately identified. The source of a leak is not always readily evident. A professional front range roofing contractor can determine where the leak is originating, which commercial roofing products are most suitable and which roofing repair procedures are best for the specific type of leak.
Silicone or acrylic roof sealing is a temporary fix that can buy time, but comes with its own risks and costs. A sealant, even a good one, covers up the primary problem. If the main issue is structural, sealing can result in a future major, more expensive repair. A qualified Colorado roofing contractor can advise building owners of the pros and cons of sealing and the likely longevity of the repair.
Roof replacement is a good solution if the roof, flashings and underlayment are older and have sustained seasonal weather damage or if the roof has undergone structural damage. A licensed Colorado commercial roofer is trained to recognize problems specific to commercial roofs related to slope, HVAC venting, solar panels or tubes and building codes. A replacement roof is the most permanent, most protective solution and, if the cost is amortized over the life of the roof, the best value.
Leaks on commercial roofs can be expensive. Repair costs are not limited to the structural integrity of the building and its roof, but can include replacement costs for inventory, office equipment and furniture, or damage in multiple apartments or condos. Top Roofco can help protect your business investment, determine eligibility for insurance reimbursement and if repairs are tax deductible.
More Subtle Contributing Factors
- Cracks in flashing
- Corrosion of vent seals
- Valleys (where two roof planes come together) have underlayment erosion or the underlayment or sealing was not properly installed
- Chronic ice dam buildup results in pooling or the weight of the ice itself has damaged roofing
- Chronic water pooling caused by clogged gutters and downspouts
- Condensation due to temperature swings
- Weather damage
- Neglected maintenance. Especially on commercial roofs, regularly scheduled inspections can catch problems when they are small and extend the life of the roof.
An experienced commercial roofer knows how to interpret discoloration, debris, pooling stains, missing nails, installation problems and signs of weathering that may not be obviously visible to the general observer.
Commercial Roofing Products
Mixing and matching roofing products, especially when patching, affects more than esthetics. Cold Colorado winters, hot summers, winds and hail storms can deteriorate roofs more quickly than more moderate climates. Compatible products can ensure good adhesion, similar temperature thresholds for expansion and contraction and limit variation in weather erosion. Additionally, new green roofing materials that provide better heating and cooling efficiencies and less environmental pollution are available through Colorado roofing contractors.
Risks and Costs
Generally, there are two types of roof coatings, silicone or acrylic. Acrylic tends to be less expensive but is not as durable as silicone. In the case of either coating, leaks and damage should be professionally repaired before application. There can be adherence problems if the roof isn’t properly cleaned prior to application, especially with silicone. Coating warranties usually cover shorter terms than roof replacement warranties. Though a coating warranty can cover 10-15 years from application, most manufacturers recommend recoating every five years, so while initially less expense than roof replacement, recoating costs can add up. Improper installation can also void manufacturer’s product warranties.
Another cost/risk consideration, especially with silicone coatings is tearing. Any foot traffic on the roof can increase the risk of tearing, especially if no fabric was installed prior to coating. Silicone coatings can be slippery when wet; if maintenance personnel regularly access the roof for simple repairs or for meter reading, then a different surface option is probably the better choice.
Problems Specific to Commercial Roofs
Slope can affect the type of materials used on roofs. Low-slope roofs typically use single ply systems utilizing rubber (EPDM) or thermoplastic compounds (TPO or PVC). Some materials aren’t appropriate for low-slope roofs, such as composition shingles or tiles, which don’t provide adequate drainage. The type of underlayment used can make a difference in drainage and weather protection for both low-slope and high-slope roofs. In areas along the front range where high winds are common, storm nailing may be required. Roofs with multiple levels should be assessed for water shedding onto lower roofs.
Valleys, abutments and vents for HVAC, solar panels or tubes should be evaluated to make sure sealants, boots and flashings are specific to the type of roofing used.
Top Roofco is knowledgeable about permitting requirements for cities and counties throughout the metro Denver area and can determine if or what type of permit is needed for roofing projects.