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Finding and Fixing Roof Leaks

November 2009 Volume 1 Number 11

It should be a quick and simple task, right? There’s water coming in, so you need to find and fix the leaks. Only after you chase leaks, call the roofing contractor (again) and get more involved than you wanted to be, can roof leaks truly be found.

Depending on your roofing files, you may be lucky enough to have retained all of the roofing information. Or, you may have a maintenance contract in place with all of the up to date information.

You may have a copy of the roof manufacturer’s warranty and discover (to your satisfaction) that the roof is still under warranty. If you’ve followed the manufacturer’s warranty instructions, you have formally contacted them for help with the leaks. Only approved contractors can make repairs under the manufacturer’s warranty.

Many times, it makes sense to have an infrared moisture scan performed to identify wet areas. In fact, performing scans every 4-5 years, along with scheduled maintenance, ensures the roofing system is dry and maintainable for many years to come.

Start with the structural deck. Your roofing file may tell you what this is, or you may have to lift a few ceiling tiles to take a look. If the deck is steel, remember that the leaking water will try to follow the direction of the slope; if the deck corrugations are parallel to the slope, then the water will run downhill until it finds a gap, such as a lap in the decking or a weld hole. If the deck is properly sloped to drain, the water may be coming in because the deck was cut for a drain bowl, but the hole was never sealed.

Check the drains from the roof side. Remove the screen and see if the bolts that hold down the clamping ring to the drain bowl are there, or if a couple of bolts are loose or missing. Just like the bolting the spare tire, the bolts should work in tandem, squeezing the membrane uniformly to create a watertight gasket.

On roofs that have a lot of equipment, mechanical units are always suspect, especially if frequent maintenance (replacing fans, filters, etc) is necessary. Access doors may not be tightly sealed or missing completely. Condensate lines could be clogged. Hose / water tests may identify leak sources quickly. This is best performed with another person below with a phone or walkie- talkie.

Roof flashings are always under suspicion because flashings make a connection between different roof components at a change of elevation, such as at the intersection of the deck and wall. Thermal and/or structural movement increases stress at these locations, usually showing as diagonal wrinkling, tearing or pulling away from the wall.

Roof membranes are penetrated for all sorts of reasons. Sheet metal pans are placed over the membrane and the pitch pocket is then filled with a sealant. The sealant will shrink over times and can be maintained by adding more filler.

Finding and fixing roof leaks is as much an art as it is a science and best left to a qualified professional contractor.

If you have questions or would like a free commercial roof inspection, please give us a call.

Spann Roofing & Sheet Metal, Inc. offers a vast array roof services to meet your needs like:

New Construction • Reroofing • Renovation Inspections • Maintenance • Repairs

And superior products you can trust like:

Modified Bitumen • BUR • Single Ply Coatings • Metal • Tile • Shingles

459 Allied Dr. • Conway, S.C. 29526 • 843-347-2220 • Fax: 843-347-9719 www.spannroofing.com

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