Skip to content

Commercial Roof Service Life and the Impact of Equipment

A commercial building’s roofing system is designed to be watertight and resilient.

Membranes can be compromised, however, by the significant amount of equipment mounted on a commercial roof. HVAC, piping, ducts, walking platforms, and other equipment are often present atop a commercial building. While the structures might be securely attached, every seam and membrane penetration can give the elements an opportunity to enter.

The highest quality roofing system can face premature water damage from the improper installation of rooftop equipment.

Rooftop Structures and their Impact on Roofing Systems

It is no surprise that while roofing membranes can last for a long time, sometimes 20-30 years, it is often human errors, while applying, repairing or maintaining, that lead to a breakdown. Additional roof punctures give moisture an opening into water tight membranes.

A necessary step in preventing such issues is a roof maintenance checklist to help pinpoint problem areas.

Here are some of the most common rooftop structures that can impact the life of a commercial building’s roof.

Prevent HVAC Leaks Can Save Commercial Roofs

No one wants to spend time in a sweltering building, so keeping inhabitants cool is high on the priority list for building owners. The tradeoff for keeping everyone comfortable? The likelihood that your HVAC unit will eventually turn on you and cause a leaking issue during the life of your roof.

When HVAC equipment is running, condensation collects, and if the unit isn’t well vented, it can begin to pond on your roof’s surface. Pooling water can become a serious issue not only because of leaks but also because of the added weight.

HVAC technicians are skilled tradesmen but aren’t normally roofing experts. When a technician is called to do regular work on a unit, or even install a new HVAC system on an existing building, a commercial roofing inspector or contractor should be present to ensure work is done correctly without negatively impacting the membrane.

Improper Roof Drainage Damages Commercial Roofing

Roof drainage systems are essential to prevent pooling water from heavy rain or melting snow. If drains aren’t working properly, due to incorrect installation or a clog, they can become another common cause of roof leaks.

Drains, gutters, and scuppers are all capable of getting blocked by debris. Schedule seasonal inspections and maintenance of your drainage system to catch potential threats.

Rooftop Pipes and Ducts Cause Roof Membrane Gaps Over Time

Along with an HVAC system, many commercial roofs will have pipes secured to the structure by weight bearing supports. If mounted incorrectly, duct supports can begin to pull away from the structure or cause gaps in the membrane, allowing water to enter.

HVAC supports should never be overloaded, as poor weight distribution may cause support braces to crack where it connects with the building’s roofing system. Over time, these HVAC structure weaknesses could lead to roof damage and failure.

Inspect Rooftop Features to Maintain Commercial Roofing

Depending on the building’s use and tenants, equipment like a satellite dish, antennas or solar panels could be necessary on the rooftop.

Many of these structures will need to be attached to the roof, causing additional penetrations and the possibility of moisture entry. Make sure a roofing professional works alongside your technology technician during equipment installations or replacements so the building’s roof is made a priority.

Other features, like public access areas or rooftop vegetation can also impact the life of a roofing membrane. Whenever the public can access a roof, even if areas are restricted, there could be a negative impact if directions aren’t followed. Be mindful in these situations and ensure the roof isn’t negatively affected due to human error.

Extending Commercial Roof Service Life

Despite the many structures that might be atop your commercial building, your roofing system can provide long-lasting protection and a great lifetime value.

Maintenance and inspection are mandatory precautions to prolonging a roof’s life.

Hyload recommends inspecting your roof membrane and other rooftop structures bi-yearly – in the fall and spring. Fall inspections are a good time to check drainage systems for clogs caused by falling leaves and other debris. Spring inspections are critical to quickly catch membrane weaknesses caused by harsh winter weather.

When checking the membrane, visually inspect all rooftop structures, their harnessing to the building and assure no gaps or problem areas are present. Problem areas can be identified by examining the inside ceiling and walls where rooftop piping or cables enter from outside.

Interested in Hyload’s roofing, flashing or waterproofing solutions for keeping the elements out? Or do you have a question regarding your commercial roof system or project? Contact us and let our experienced team help.

Back To Top