Problems on a roof can happen to any building, but most of the issues are largely preventable through planning. Several factors will influence a roof’s service life: design quality installation, products, maintenance, roof use, abuse, and weather. The 10 roof problems listed below are common occurrences, but through quality work and planning, most can be easily dealt with before a major, expensive problem occurs.
Problem #1: Roof leaks. With any type of roof, if it is leaking then you have a problem.
Problem #2: Blow-offs, tenting, or billowing. This occurs if the roof has not adhered properly to the substrate. Single-ply roofs are at risk for blow-off and billowing.
Problem #3: Poor installation or workmanship. A faulty installation increases the likelihood of problems and reduces a roof system’s life expectancy. Workmanship tends to be one of the more common problems or reasons for problems down the road.
Problem #4: Lack of maintenance. There are many reasons not to neglect a roof, including finances and safety, but it’s important to have routine inspections done. Ponding water, a base flashing that is slipping, or pitch pockets that haven’t been filled are items that can be easily spotted and fixed.
Problem #5: Ponding water. The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) has classified “undesirable” ponding water as standing for more than 48 hours, although ponding can pose a threat in even shorter time spans. A matter of “deep” concern in the roofing industry is the fact that a 1” deep pond weighs 5.2 lbs./square foot. The additional weight of the load may pose a threat to the structural integrity of the building, with a very real possibility of roof collapse in extreme cases.
Problem #6: Punctures and the addition of penetrations. For those with single-ply roof systems, damage from foot traffic can be problematic.
Problem #7: Safety. Fires, odors, slips, and falls are common issues that occur on the roof.
Problem #8: Improper repairs. Using materials that are not intended for application on specific roof types can result in permanent damage.
Problem #9: Shrinkage. Single-ply roof types are unique. If you walk out onto an EPDM roof, one of the first things you’re going to look for is evidence of shrinkage. The two items most commonly seen are flashings pulling away from the wall or curb and crazing and cracking of uncured membrane, which is commonly used at perimeter and penetration flashings.
Problem #10: Blistering, ridging, splitting, and surface erosion. These issues are commonly found with BUR roof systems, but can also happen in some single-ply systems.