Finding the source of a leaking roof in a single-family residence is usually pretty straightforward. In fact, most of the time, if you have a moisture stain on the ceiling, you can usually find the source of the leak and decide whether to patch or replace your roof from there.
Finding and fixing leaks on a commercial roof can be a whole different world, though. Our clients often ask us how we can be so precise when we find the cause of their water woes. First of all, we bring years of experience to the table whenever we take on a contract, but we have to admit that we do use a few tricks of the trade that we’ve picked up along the way to getting all that experience.
And now we’re going to let you in on some of our commercial roofing secrets so that you can better understand our process and how we work when we need to find and repair commercial roof leaks.
Accuracy Is More Efficient Than Rushing
A lot of business owners and managers have experienced the frustration that comes with a contractor rushing through a job, trying to get it done as quickly as possible so that they can move on to the next and maximize their profits. A lot of the time, though, this results in shoddy work.
Sometimes roofing contractors will skimp on investigating a leak, assume that its origin is the most common or obvious problem, patch that area, and move on without checking to make sure they’ve actually fixed the issue. We never do this. We take the time to make sure that we find the leak in your commercial roof the first time, so that you don’t have to deal with the hassle of an incomplete job, and so we don’t have to waste resources by doing the work over again.
We may have to take a little bit longer in diagnosing a leak, but we will always do the job right the first time.
Track the Leak Back From the Interior Entry Point
When we are asked to fix a commercial roof leak, we will often start at the point where you’ve found water leaking into the building. This may be a moisture stain on a ceiling tile, or it may be a drip down a wall or some other evidence of a leak. If, for example, there is water leaking from a ceiling tile, we will remove the drop ceiling in that area so that we can see the roofing deck above it.
From there we can check for leaking air handling equipment, pipe work, ducting, or other potential leaks. Even if none of these is evident, we can often find where moisture is leaking into the roof deck and track it outside.
Once we’ve tracked the point of origin from inside the building, we will identify a good reference point, usually on an exterior wall, and measure from there to the source of the leakage. That way, when we get outside on the roof, we won’t end up working on the wrong area.
Know What Kind of Leak You’re Looking For
A lot of leaks coming from drain sumps, HVAC units, or pipe flashing have telltale signs when observed from the inside. If we can trace a leak back to near one of these rooftop fixtures, we can usually safely assume that we’ve found the culprit. Then we can investigate the area around it and determine where the leak is originating.
We also take into account what kind of roofing you have on your building. If it’s single-ply, for example, we will look for small punctures around rooftop equipment. Leaks sometimes also occur at the seams in membrane roofing systems. By knowing about your roofing material, we are better equipped to find where and how it has failed.