Fighting Off Leaks: Common Causes of Residential and Commercial Roof Leaks 

Air conditioning systems on roof of commercial buildings. The rooftop location benefits from less noise pollution, minimize dirt and damage, increased security, space savings and ease of maintenance

When it comes to roof repair, those are two words no business owner or homeowner wants to hear spoken in the same sentence. Oh no. It might mean any number of things. It might be an indication of a much bigger problem that has been neglected or missed. It might mean a need for a complete roof replacement. It might mean there are more leaks that have yet to be fully discovered and this is only the beginning. A roof leak can mean several things to commercial property owners and homeowners, but it usually has one main thing in common and that is that the source of the leak must be found. 

Sometimes leaks might manifest in different places from where they originated. This can make the process of finding the true culprit a lot more difficult. Nevertheless, finding a leak doesn’t always have to mean a big blow to your wallet. It all depends on how bad it looks and where the source of the leak is coming from. Let’s look at some of the most common causes of roof leaks in both commercial and residential. 

The Difficult Task of Diverting Water 

The main purpose of any roof system is to keep water and moisture out of the building. In fact, dealing with moisture and water leaks is a common enemy of any property owner. It seems as if it shouldn’t be that complicated a task, but, in fact, keeping all moisture away from the building and diverting water and preventing damage from weather, is actually far from easy and the effectiveness hinges on several factors including materials, roof quality, installation quality, maintenance and more. 

Commercial Roof Leaks — Keeping Your Business Safe and Operating Properly 

When it comes to commercial properties and structures—whether you are talking about an office building, factory, warehouse, store, etc—the integrity of your roof cannot be compromised because it might mean all kinds of complications for employees and customers. Safety and operations rest on the proper functioning of your entire building, so a problem with the roof might mean you have to stop operations and therefore cost you money. 

  • Improper drainage. Roofs and buildings need to be designed in a way that facilitates proper drainage. So when a structure is not properly designed, then you might have to contend with improper drainage problems and keep an eye on it even more. Proper drainage is a necessary prerequisite for roof design, as the laws of nature state that water has to go somewhere. 
  • Penetrations on the roof surface. This is another problem that goes back to design. It’s why it’s important that initial roof installations and design are done properly, otherwise, it might cause you a lieu of problems in the future. The more penetrations you have on a rooftop, you simply increase the likelihood that a leak will find its way. 
  • Rooftop units. Depending on the design of your commercial roof, it’s likely that you have rooftop HVAC units, and these can be a frustrating source of leaky problems. If something wasn’t patched right or properly installed, the roof might suffer the consequences for it. 
  • Rooftop traffic. Commercial roofs see a lot more traffic than residential roofs. This means HVAC maintenance crews, toolboxes, carts, window washing equipment, etc. All of this foot traffic and wear and tear can create cuts and punctures in membrane roof systems. 
  • Human error. Mistakes in installation and patchwork can often be the source of roofing problems. It just so happens that human beings make mistakes and often miss things, especially if they are not trained professionals or are not highly trained in their jobs. This means bad roof installations or roof repairs and all can have consequences down the road.

Residential Roofs — Finding the Culprit at Home 

Residential roofs are a little different than commercial roofs and usually have different materials or are installed differently. Some of the causes can overlap, but some of the most common causes we see in residential roofs include:

  • Leaks originating from the flashing. You know the flashing. You see the flashing every day. You might not notice or pay much attention to it and yet so much rests on its little metal shoulders. Flashing is the thin metal sheet or fitting that covers a seam or transition. This thin metal is used if there are points of penetration on your roof, for example, a chimney.
  • Leaky joints. No, we’re not talking about your knees and elbows, although if they’re leaky you probably should get that checked out! We’re talking about the joints between the roof and the chimney or around other penetrations in your roof such as from skylights or HVAC systems. Worn or cracked rubber around these corners is a common source of leak origination. 
  • Skylights. In addition to the joints or the flashing around the skylight, the seals on the skylight itself might begin to degrade and begin to leak. 
  • Chimney. Chimneys let more than just Santa Claus in, they love to let moisture in. It is very easy for chimneys to accumulate water that ends up trickling down and finding its way through the smallest of breaches. 
  • Soffit and Fascia damage. The wood or metal panel and the board that runs behind the gutter can be susceptible places to leaks as well. If there are problems with the roof drip edge, water will make it sway into the fascia and rot it over time. This will certainly be a source of leakage if not discovered or seen in time. 

Get Professional Roofing with Roof Toppers 

With 30 years of experience, we’ve done plenty of detective work in our day that has led us to find many sneaky little leaks. Roof Toppers is staffed with professionals that specialize in roof repairs and roof leaks, both in commercial and residential. Give us a call today. 

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