Identifying Common Roof Problems

Learn How to Identify Problems Early

Many contractors are assigned with one difficult task to accomplish: How to identify roof problems. Here is our list of common areas on where to inspect and discover those roof problems. Although there could be different areas that you have to investigate, these are the most repeated scenarios.

Weathering

Rotting roof in need of repair
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Roof material deteriorates with direct exposure to weather inclemencies. Inorganic roofing materials are less susceptible than ​organic materials. Exposure to pollutants or industrial atmosphere may accelerate the decay of your roofing material.

Lack of Maintenance

Roof with hole and broken shingles
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It is most common on flat or low-sloped roofs. Failure to correct an uneven roof will cause the accumulation of sediments and water that will eventually destroy your material.

Design Problems

Roof in mid-repair
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Design-related problems are expensive to correct, and normally the corrections must be done while the replacement of the roofing material is undergoing. Some examples are:

  • The weak structure supporting the roof that might deflect excessively under active loads.
  • Improper roof slope, sagging roof, or inadequate drainage system, resulting in accumulation of water.
  • Incorrect system to allow expansion and contraction of changes in deck material or changes in direction.
  • Incompatible roof materials.

Wind

Damaged roof shingles
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The vacuum and the uplifting pressure created by wind, blowing over the edge of the roof, can partially rip the roofing membrane or system that has been applied. To counteract the forces that are exerted on the roof, the roofing and insulation must be fastened and secured to the perimeter and the main roof structure.

Flashing Material

Roof flashing around chimney
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The function of the flashing is to provide a seal, a watertight seal, between roofing materials, roof sections, and other parts of the building. It is an area that should be carefully inspected prior to any other area. Incorrect installation procedure or attachment, and improper sealing of the flashing will allow the water to enter between the roofing systems and the roof structure. Sometimes, installing a flashing over a joint or cap will eliminate the problem if it is detected early in the construction.

Base Flashing

Man working on roof
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Base-flashing problems also present some serious and important areas that you must inspect. Some common causes are:

  • An insufficient number of base-flashing piles.
  • Improper height.
  • Insufficient overlaps.
  • Poor adhesion.
  • Incorrect fastening to the surface.
  • Insufficient coating.
  • Loose insulation below.

Penetration Flashings

Installing flashing around a chimney
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Either small or large penetration flashing can fail in several ways. As a matter of example:

  • Improper design.
  • Broken seams in metal curbs due to building movement.
  • Deteriorated counter flashing.
  • Improper finishing of metal surfaces.
  • Standing water behind penetration curbs.

Drain Flashing

Roofer Trimming Shingle around Plumbing Vent Flashing
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It is not as simple as installing lots of drain openings. The building’s drain system should consist of reasonable drain openings, an adequate pitch from high point to drainage components. It is a good practice to include overflow scuppers through different areas to avoid the accumulation of water in case of an emergency. Proper maintenance should be given to all of these areas.

Rooftop Equipments

Roofers installing panels on roof
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It is very easy to install the A/C compressor, the satellite antenna, and other components directly to the surface. Proper attention should be given when this kind of equipment is installed. They should never be mounted or placed directly to the top of the roof membrane. They should be mounted to a support structure or raised curb-type supports. Flat flange or curb flashing can then be used to keep the roof watertight, and roof replacement and recovery can be done without disturbing or removing the equipment.

Metal Base Flashings

Installing flashing
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These types of flashing will separate easily from bituminous materials. The expansion and contraction rate of these two materials will produce cracks and openings that will allow the water to enter and damage the surface. For these reasons, metal base flashing should be replaced with a bituminous base flashing whenever possible.