How to tell if you have a roof leak

water leaking from ceiling

How can I tell where my roof is leaking? 

What can be worse than to come into work on Monday morning and part of the roof has collapsed inside the office area, production area, or warehouse area of your business?  Maybe calling your insurance company to file a claim and they deny the claim because the collapse is from a leak that has been ignored?  Yes, that could happen which is why a commercial building owner should have commercial leak detection of the plumbing and the roof so you can stay on top of these things. 

In the years past, a visual inspection found commercial roof leaks by walking around on the flat roof looking for damage and problems. The problem with walking around on the roof can cause damage too.  Today, roofing contractors know how to do commercial leak detection without that added risk of damage, but in the meantime, you, the commercial building owner, probably have some questions about doing your own commercial leak detection on your roof so that you don’t have the scenario we set in place at the beginning. 

Your commercial building could have a roof leak right now and you may not even know it. So, the reason that a routine of inspecting the roof regularly comes into focus now.  The sooner you have a commercial leak detection, the better for your building and the budget in the long run. 

As we mentioned earlier, if the insurance company determines that the leak was in existence and ignored, your claim will be denied.  Ask your roofing contractor about a regular maintenance plan is a great commercial leak detection way to prevent those denied insurance claims. Here, we offer you a few commercial leak detection steps that will indicate you need to get a professional commercial roofing contractor on the job immediately: 

  • Ceilings or Walls Stained – No matter what type of ceiling system your commercial structure has, when there has been an extended exposure of water to the roof by way of a leaking roof, it will eventually discolor the ceilings. The same is to be said about walls that are adjacent to the ceiling where the roof is leaking.  Even worse, stained walls can also mean the roof leak has found its way down inside the walls, creating more damage.   
  • Standing water – A walk around your commercial flat roof that finds standing water would indicate the drains are clogged. The water has nowhere to go, so it ponds and puddles.
  • Alligatoring or Blistering Membrane – A flat roof membrane is only good for so many years, and after a while, it becomes aged and weathered from the UV rays and weather. They blister, bubble, and crack, then the ponding water gets in those areas and make their way to the inside.
  • Loose seams – Some flat roofs have membrane with seams. As the roof ages and becomes weathers, those seams will loosen and come apart.  This allows a place for that ponding water to enter, making its ways inside the building.
  • Holes or tears in the membrane – This can happen from high winds dropping things on the roof or from service technicians walking around on the roof.  Another reason routine inspections are recommended, allows you to catch these things and get them repaired before they become a problem.
  • Flashing damaged – High winds and temperature contracting and expanding the metal flashing around the roof of your commercial building can cause that flashing to loosen and come off. 
  • Odor and Mold – There is no better commercial leak detection for a roof than noticing a foul odor of mildew or mold in any part of the building. Moist environment grows mold and if there is roof leak, your nose can be your commercial leak detection system. Ignore the odor and that mold will keep growing, making your employees sick and keep your customers and visitors at bay.
  • Puddles In The Building – If there is water dripping from the ceiling or there are puddles in the middle of an area, that is an obvious indication you have a leak of some sort inside your commercial roof system. It isn’t necessarily a roof leak though, as it could be the HVAC or plumbing system. Having your own maintenance team do the regular inspection. Acting as a commercial leak detection system, they will know when they see an issue with the HVAC, the plumbing, or if there is a potential roof leak. From that observation, they can advise you what type of professional contractor to call and get the matter resolved quickly. 
  • Increased Energy Bills – A roof leak will allow the insulation to get saturated before it gets to the ceiling tiles. This is going to make that insulation less effective in keeping your building cool or warm as needed, and that will cause your energy bills to increase. 

What causes a leak in the roof? 

There are several possible commercial roof leak causes, many could be caught and repaired before they became a leaking problem with regular inspections by your maintenance staff or a commercial roofing contractor. Causes that a commercial leak detection find are common with commercial roofing leaks: 

  • Drainage: When a commercial roof is installed, the builder will take into consideration how it will drain. There should be multiple points of draining based on possible vulnerability like downspouts, drains, gutters, and scuppers. If these are not cleaned regularly, they can become clogged and unable to drain.  The water backs up, pond and puddles, seeping its way into the building. 
  • Penetrations: Most commercial flat roofs have penetrations for drains, gas lines, HVAC units, plumbing, vents, etc. If the boots that seal these up have become dried and worn, this create a vulnerable place for leaks. 
  • Roof Flashings: f the roof flashing that joins areas on the roof like the chimneys, interior walls, roof edges, and skylights comes loose or isn’t installed correctly, water can seep in those areas and being leaking into the building.   
  • Membrane: A commercial roof needs a membrane that is waterproof and if that membrane becomes damaged, or has gotten old and isn’t replaced, it allows water to penetrate to the inside of the building. 
  • Old Roof: A commercial flat roofing system should have a lifespan up to 20 years. This can vary based on the maintenance and upkeep of the roof, the climate, and the environment.  If your commercial building roof has reached the 15 year mark, it is time to have a professional roof inspection performed, this will include having commercial leak detection done, and they can advise you if the time has it replaced or how much more life your roof has left. 

How do I stop my roof from leaking? 

Roof leak and roof damage is not something any commercial building owner wants to deal with, but when it happens, you don’t have a choice.  If this happens, hopefully, you have the manpower and equipment to get on the roof and patch the leak temporarily with roofing tar and a piece of plywood. Using a trowel on the underside of the roof, spread the roofing tar in and around the leak. Push the piece of plywood into the tar and, using the trowel, spread more roofing tar along the edges of the wooden patch. 

water damage and shingle damage on roof

How do you repair a leaky roof? 

The roof protects your commercial building and all it contains from the exposure of the elements and that makes the roof vulnerable. When it begins leaking, your first thought may be to have it replaced, but you should also check into having it repaired with roof coating. Restoring your commercial building roof is often a perfect solution to a leaking roof and it is much less cost and time consuming. 

After reading this article, you may ask yourself, ‘How much should a roof leak repair cost?” and unfortunately, there isn’t a flat answer to this question. There are several factors involved in this price determination: 

  • Your location
  • The leak location
  • The roof type
  • The roof access, height, and pitch
  • The extent and type of damage

 Get several quotes and compare them before making a decision to repair or replace, but don’t assume the cheapest is the best, nor is the most expensive. Dial 412-256-8050 today for your leak repair in Pittsburgh, PA.