Flat roofs are popular for commercial roofing because of their inexpensive design and the ability to house large mechanics, such as industrial air conditioners, upon the level surface. However, the flat design suffers when it comes to rain and snow, making most repairs related to weather leakage. Thankfully, patching a leak is a relatively straightforward task.
For the first step, a professional will need to locate the leak. That sounds elementary, but if your building has a BUR flat roof (Built-Up Roofs, the “tar and gravel” style) this might be the first big challenge as BUR roofs are notoriously difficult to find leaks. Single-Ply roofs (rubber membrane roofs), on the other hand, because of their seam sealed design make finding leaks easier. However, punctures and cracks are also more common.
After the damaged area is found, a professional will sweep the area of extra debris (BUR roof gravel can break loose over years of weather exposure) and then cut a patch around the leak as uniformly shaped as possible. Using that cut out area as a guide, the repairman will cut a replacement patch. The important part here will be to cut enough replacement pieces (or shingles) to build up all of the layers of the roof. BUR roofs can have many layers, as that is their core design. Here the benefit for the Single-Ply roof, being literally a single layer, will come into play with much less repair materials needed. Once the layers are replaced with the new cut shingles, a larger shingle will be cut to place overtop the patched area and sealed to prevent leakage through the cut seams.
Pitched roofs have a slope of more than 10 degrees to the horizontal surface. Although less common than flat roofs for commercial buildings, they are still used, especially in areas of heavy snowfall. Leaks on pitched roofs can come from problems with the shingles or tiles, but also in the flashing or valleys. Flashing is the sheet metal used around structures on a roof, such as chimneys, that is designed to force water down and away from seams. Valleys are lead lined areas found on multiple pitched roofs used for water runoff creating a gutter effect where the two pitches meet.
If you do live in an area of extreme weather, repairing a pitched roof will be considerably more difficult in the bad months, especially for the safety of the repairman. Usually he or she will look under the roof on the interior to find the leak, and then where the leakage is will determine the repairs.
For damaged shingles, a shingle ripper will be used to detach the shingle from the roof. Most are held by four or more nails (depending on the type of shingle). Then a new shingle will be slid into place, nailed down, and sealed. Clay or rounded tiles will require the chipping away of the securing mortar, tile replacement, and then reapplying of the mortar. If the flashing or valleys are damaged, the professional will have to determine whether the area can be patched or requires replacement. For cracks, flashing tape can be adhered to the roof to prevent further leakage. However, in more severe damage, the entire flashing or valley may need to be removed and replaced.
Do not hesitate to seek help for leakage repair as the more the area is exposed to the elements, the more advanced the repair job will be. If you think your roof may have a leak, contact a commercial roofing repair specialist or a commercial roofing company near you.