Guarding Your Business: Understanding and Preventing Commercial Roof Leaks

Sep 25, 2023 | Commercial

Has your business recently experienced a troublesome roof leak due to heavy rain or other weather-related challenges? Worry not; Greenawalt Roofing Company is here to help you identify the root cause of the leak and provide an effective solution to protect your business. 

Let’s explore the common causes of commercial roof leaks to determine why taking action and addressing them is essential.

What causes a commercial roof leak?

One of the most challenging issues businesses face is a commercial roof leak. Various factors can cause roof leaks, so it’s essential to understand all the potential sources of the issue to resolve it.

Common causes include:

Poor Maintenance: Poor maintenance of a commercial roof can result in roof leaks by neglecting routine upkeep, ultimately leading to the deterioration of roofing materials. As these materials degrade over time due to lack of care and attention, they become increasingly susceptible to leaks, compromising the roof’s integrity and allowing water infiltration.

Aging Roof: An aging commercial roof can cause leaks due to its increasing vulnerability. The aging process leads to the deterioration of roofing materials, making them more prone to leaks. This vulnerability may manifest as both uniform wear and tear across the roof’s surface and localized issues, such as weakened seals or cracked shingles, contributing to the potential for leakage.

Build-up of Water: Water accumulation on a commercial roof can lead to leaks due to the added weight and pressure on the roofing system. This build-up of water can vary in intensity, so your roof may leak only occasionally or in varying amounts. The pressure from pooled water can weaken roofing materials over time, creating openings and vulnerabilities that allow water to penetrate the roof, leading to leaks.

Hail and Wind: Hail can create openings or fractures in roofing materials, allowing water to infiltrate, while strong winds can lift or tear roofing components, leading to immediate or intermittent leaks when rain accompanies wind damage. The combined effects of hail and wind can exacerbate roof vulnerabilities and increase the risk of leaks during severe weather events.

Open Penetrations: Roof penetrations such as HVAC systems, vents, and piping can create openings for water infiltration. These leaks can be sporadic, contributing to water leakage that only occurs occasionally.

Damaged Roof Flashings: Damaged roof flashings can cause leaks in commercial roofs by compromising the seals around roof joints and penetrations. Over time, these flashings may deteriorate or sustain damage, creating openings that allow water to infiltrate the roofing system.

Damaged Membrane: Roof membranes, when damaged by various sources such as weather, debris, or foot traffic, can weaken in different areas over time. This weakening can create sporadic or bursty leaks as water finds its way through the damaged portions of the membrane, infiltrating the underlying roofing structure and causing leakage into the commercial building during rain events or adverse weather conditions.

Take Action to Protect Your Commercial Property and safeguard your roof from bad weather

Hire Professionals: Consulting with professional roofing contractors for repairs, inspections, and maintenance is essential to protecting your business and maintaining your roof’s condition.

Regular inspections: Inspections should be conducted at least twice a year, ideally around spring and fall, especially after severe weather that could have impacted your roof.

  • Proper ventilation: Your roof should have sufficient ventilation to prevent condensation build-up and moisture-related issues from occurring.
  • Seal penetrations: Penetration points, such as vents, chimneys, and HVAC units, should be regularly inspected and sealed around to prevent leaks.
  • Flashing: Roof flashings are essential to prevent water infiltration, so they should be regularly inspected
  • Roof coating: Ensure your roof coat is in good condition (if you have one) and recoated when necessary to provide waterproofing protection.

General Roofing Maintenance:

  • Ponding: Water ponds on your roof can be dangerous, as they can cause structure damage and leaks. Installing tapered insulation is an option to resolve the water ponding issue, as this system improves water runoff.
  • Debris: Debris, such as leaves and branches, should be removed when possible, as they can cause moisture in your roof to be trapped and accelerate the deterioration process.
  • Ice dams: To avoid roof leaks and even the potential for your roof to collapse, snow should always be cleared from your roof, and proper attic insulation and ventilation should be in place.

Regular roof maintenance is a great idea to extend your commercial roof’s service life and performance. Greenawalt is happy to discuss your roof maintenance needs and work with you to develop a plan that works for your building.

Considerations for determining the best maintenance program include the type of roofing system, age of the roofing system, amount of roof foot traffic (i.e., for HVAC access), and seasonal weather – it’s always a good idea for a checkup following any extreme weather.

When you should start thinking about replacing your commercial building roof

  • Age Beyond Expected Lifespan: If your commercial roof has reached or exceeded its expected lifespan of 20 to 30 years, it’s a strong indicator that it may be time for a replacement.
  • Water Leaks: Frequent leaks within your building are a clear sign of roof damage and a compelling reason to consider replacement.
  • Visible Damage: If you see visible damage, such as cracks, holes, or severe wear and tear on your roof’s surface, it’s a red flag that indicates the need for a new roof.
  • Recurring Roof Repairs: If you find yourself repeatedly addressing roof repairs and issues, it may be more cost-effective and practical to invest in a roof replacement.
  • Increased Energy Bills: An inefficient or deteriorating roof can lead to higher energy bills due to compromised insulation and ventilation. If your energy costs have steadily risen, it may be time to evaluate your roof’s condition.


In summary, commercial roof leaks can come from many factors, including poor maintenance, aging roofs, water build-up, open penetrations, damaged flashings, and membrane issues. The damage caused by these leaks can vary, making it essential to address them promptly.

Don’t let roof leaks compromise your business’s integrity; contact Greenawalt Roofing Company today for a dependable solution, prompt inspection, and a precise, no-cost estimate.

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