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5 Common Problems that Lead to Roof Failure

October 17, 2022

Almost every roof is exposed to varied temperatures and other natural forces, which results in issues such as blisters, splits, and punctures. Poor design, substandard workmanship, and use of low quality materials, accelerate the onset of splits and debris that causes punctures and ultimately structural failure. Having an in depth understanding of common roof problems helps commercial real estate investors prevent potential structural failure and losses. On that note, here are 5 common roofing issues and their remedial courses of action.

1. Blisters

Blisters – one of the most common roofing problems – are raised bumps on the roof’s surface, which require proper and timely attention. Blisters occur when a gas (usually water vapor) is trapped in between the plies, or between the plies and the insulation. The sun’s heat during the day causes the gas trapped within these plies to expand, creating pressure within the system, which ultimately pushes the plies apart, resulting in blisters. Blisters usually do not occur in membranes that are protected from moisture. Moisture can be prevented during a re-cover, and by applying wet materials, such as felts, that absorb dew or rain on the edges. Moisture not only leads to blisters on roofs but also impacts the insulation of the building. It is a common problem in roofs installed in areas with excessive rain, snow, or dew.

2. Punctures

Punctures are the most overrated roofing problem. They often occur due to carelessness on the part of people visiting the roof, such as HVAC mechanics, window washers, painters, maintenance staff, smokers, and tenants. Punctures can also occur due to the movement of heavy equipment on the roof or due to debris left or tossed on the roof. They usually occur in the form of tears or holes.

3. Flashing

Flashing is a thin layer of impervious material applied to a surface preventing the passage of water into a structure from a seam or joint and often used as part of a weather resistant barrier system. Make sure flashing properly applies to the surface creating a barrier for water to slip down the wall or curb, thereby preventing the creation of a funnel into the building. Flashing often terminates under a metal counterflashing, and if the counterflashing doesn’t adhere to the membrane properly, it fails to divert water penetration from the joints of roof shingles, ridges of the kitchen chimneys, and more.

4. Open Laps

An open lap in the flashing is another big roofing problem that results in roof failure over time. Open lapses are a result of poor workmanship during roof installation, especially when the installer fails to apply adhesive to an entire lap. Open laps usually occur in a built-up and modified bitumen systems when the bitumen is applied in a cold state. Initially, the laps appear to be closed but openings become prominent as the roof ages. In single-ply membranes, open laps occur due to inappropriate adherence to the membrane. This can happen when the membrane is applied on a dirty surface, heat welded at very cold temperatures, or by not allowing the adhesive to settle or applying it in excess or scarcity.

5. Surface Coating

The surface coating protects roofs against UV radiations and prevents any potential damage caused due to traffic on the roof. In the case of ballasted roofs or EPDM roofs, apart from gravity, coating makes an ideal choice to keep roofs intact. When the coating gets damaged, displaced or worn off, it no longer functions as a protective layer.

The Bottom Line

The type of roof system chosen at the time of installation should reflect the characteristic of the building. If the roof is continuously exposed to UV rays or experiences lots of foot traffic, it is important to choose a system that is resistant to the same. For a roof entailing a great deal of thermal movement, EPDM membrane makes an ideal choice; better than a standard membrane that offers less stretchability.

As your roof ages, certain anomalies are bound to surface in the system, unless the roof is being maintained under a proper maintenance program. Having a maintenance program not only enhances the roof’s lifespan, but also minimizes the need of repairs and the expenses that follow. If you are looking for expert roof repair services in Dallas, Tx, feel free to connect with one of our representatives for a no-obligation free consultation.

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