Hundreds Of Migratory Birds Are Potential Causes Of Commercial Roof Damage On Metal Roof

10 Common Causes Of Commercial Roof Damage

So, what exactly causes commercial roof damage? The answer, unfortunately, is a wide range of unavoidable environmental and manmade factors. There is nothing a property manager can do about the weather, flight patterns of migratory birds, or the need to service rooftop HVAC units. And yes, all of these are common reasons property managers discover roof damage.

While there is little that property managers can do to completely prevent damage from occurring, understanding common sources of commercial roof damage allows property managers to be proactive in taking care of their roof. Here are 10 common causes of commercial roof damage property managers should be on the look out for.

1. Commercial Service Contractors

Believe it or not, other service contractors commonly damage commercial roofs. HVAC and other building service contractors cause damage while servicing rooftop HVAC units and other equipment. This can be as simple as dropping a tool or piece of equipment that punctures or damages the roof membrane. While this damage is unintentional, it can still cause issues for property managers.

2. Pest Birds and Wildlife

Pest birds and nuisance wildlife damage commercial roofs two ways. First, their nesting materials can clog commercial gutters and downspouts, which can ultimately cause multiple types of commercial roof damage. Second, their droppings can physically damage commercial roof membranes. Large quantities of birds can significantly damage a commercial roof in a short period of time. Property managers with bird issues should contact a pest bird removal expert and never attempt to remove them or clean the roof on their own.

3. Winter Weather

Freezing temperatures, sleet, ice storms, and snow are all common sources of commercial roof damage. During winter months, thermal shock can cause roofing membrane cracks and leaks. Ice dams lead to broken gutters and downspouts that forces water back onto the roof, which can lead to leaks. In a worst case scenario, rooftop snow accumulation can cause roofs to buckle or even collapse.

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4. Hail Storms

One of the biggest causes of commercial roof damage, especially in the middle of the country, is hail. Major hail storms cause dents, dings, and even punctures on commercial roofs. Hail does not discriminate. It damages all types of commercial roofing materials plus flashing, gutters, and other rooftop equipment. Thankfully, when hail damage does occur, the costs to repair or replace the roof are usually covered by a property’s commercial insurance policy.

5. Landscaping Debris

When a property is surrounded by tall trees, leaves and landscaping debris are a potential source of roof damage. Landscaping debris and leaves frequently clog gutters and downspouts on commercial buildings. These clogs lead to ponding water issues and potentially roof leaks. A roof covered in leaves and twigs is also very inviting to nesting birds and other wildlife that cause roof damage. This is why cleaning landscaping debris off a commercial roof is a key part of fall roof maintenance.

6. Clogged Gutters

Clogged gutters and downspouts are a major source of commercial roof damage. Commercial gutter clogs can be caused by leaves, landscaping debris, ice dams, or wildlife. Regardless of the cause, clogged gutters typically result in damage to the gutters themselves, ponding water, leaks, and even foundation water penetrations.


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7. Extreme Heat

Extreme heat causes damage to all types of commercial roofs. Hot days followed by cool nights can strain metal roofing components, eventually leading to cracks. Extended periods of high temperatures can cause asphalt shingles to shrink and crack. Lastly, high temperatures can cause caulking around equipment and flashing to blister and crack. In all three of these situations, the resulting cracks and damage greatly increase the chances of a commercial roof leaking.

8. Algae and Vegetation Growth

Unchecked algae and vegetation growth on commercial roofs eventually start to produce moisture. Commonly, this moisture seeps into the roofing membrane which can lead to roof decking rot and leaks. In the most serious cases, this damage can impact the structural integrity of the entire roofing system. Property managers can easily avoid algae and vegetation issues by having their roof pressure washed or professionally cleaned.

9. High Winds

High winds during a hurricane, windstorm, or an intense thunderstorm regularly damage roofs on commercial properties. Wind damage can result in seams separating on flat membrane roofs or missing shingles on steep slope asphalt shingle roofs. Another way wind causes commercial roof damage is blowing debris onto or into the roof.

10. Lack of Roof Maintenance

Last but not least, one of the leading causes of damage to commercial roofing systems is a lack of maintenance. Similar to a car, a commercial roof requires maintenance in order to reach its useful life. Failing to properly maintain a roof is a surefire way to increase the chances of uncontrollable events causing damage. This is why annual roof inspections and a preventative roof maintenance plan are critically important for every commercial property.


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