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The Top 10 Most Common Roof Problems

Roof Problems
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Obvious or unforeseen, roof problems are always a pain and undoubtedly a significant expense. Buildings magazine examined which problems are most common and the conditions that can either cause or be the result of premature failure and reduced service life of low-slope roof systems. This is not a self-diagnostic guide, but rather an informative list of some of the problems most often battled by building owners and facilities professionals.

“If you look at a failure curve, most roofs are the best they’re going to be at the time they are installed. The curve is pretty flat in terms of their deterioration for the first several years, and the last 25 or 30 percent of the roof [life], the curve becomes more steep,” explains Ron Harriman, vice president, Benchmark Inc., Cedar Rapids, IA. Unfortunately, problems are inevitable as the roof ages. Without proper and routine maintenance, these minor problems can even become catastrophic.

1: ROOF LEAKS AND MOISTURE

With any roof – no matter what type – if you’ve got roof leaks, then you’ve got a problem. Leaks can occur for a number of reasons. Built-up roofs (BUR) might experience leaks due to flashing details that weren’t fastened properly during installation.

2: BLOW-OFFS, TENTING, REDUCED WIND UPLIFT RESISTANCE, AND BILLOWING

Leaks are not the only problem that can result from improperly installed flashing. Hot bituminous roofs where flashing is poorly attached may experience open seams and laps and ultimately cause blow-offs, reduced puncture resistance, and code issues.

3: POOR INSTALLATION AND UNSATISFACTORY WORKMANSHIP

A faulty installation dramatically increases the likelihood of problems and reduces a roof system’s life expectancy.

4: LACK OF MAINTENANCE

There are many reasons not to neglect the roof – including financial and business continuity reasons. Being wise to problems can prevent their escalation.

5: PONDING WATER

Another common problem across all roof types is ponding water. If we move the water off the roof, the roof has a really good chance of performing the way it should.UV rays compounded by ponding water can have adverse effects on BUR and asphalt-based mod bit roofs.

6: PUNCTURES AND THE ADDITION OF PENETRATIONS POST-INSTALLATION

For all owners, but especially those with single-ply or spray polyurethane foam (SPF) roof systems, damage from foot traffic can be problematic. All roof systems’ performance is compromised when new equipment and penetrations are added to an existing roof, unless proper precautions are taken. When penetrations are added and deleted from a metal roof, the results can be disastrous.

7: SAFETY

The installation of hot bituminous and torch-applied mod bit systems requires strict adherence to safety procedures. Overheating asphalt can result in burns, and fires in the kettle and on the roof.

8: IMPROPER REPAIRS

Using materials that are not intended for application on specific roof types can result in permanent damage to the roof.

9: SHRINKAGE
Single-ply roof types are each unique.

10: BLISTERING
Blistering, ridging, splitting, and surface erosion are symptomatic with BUR, and can eventually lead to bigger problems. While blisters are not always worth fixing, one of significant size should be addressed.

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