11/9/21 2:15 PM 8 min read

My Commercial Roof is Leaking and I Don’t Know Why – What Can I Do?


It’s never a good time to discover an issue with your commercial or industrial roof, but for those of us still grappling with staffing shortages, supply chain disruptions, reduced capital and a variety of other pandemic-induced business challenges, a flat roof leak feels like a twist of the knife. You know ignoring it will only make matters worse, but what do you do when you see the telltale signs of a leak inside your commercial building yet can’t find the source?

What to Look for

You see (or smell) a problem – dripping water, stained ceiling or walls, mold growth, musty odor – but its origination may not be clear. If you decide to check on your commercial roof yourself, a walkthrough can help pinpoint the problem and guide your next steps.

Look for the most common causes of leakage, including:

  • Damage or deterioration around vents, skylights, pipes, HVAC units and other roof penetrations that can compromise the airtight fit of these areas
  • Improperly installed, damaged or aged flashings or seals that have caused gaps or cracks where moisture can seep in and collect around roof edges or parapets
  • Cracks, punctures or heat and sun damage on the roof surface that may have compromised the roof membrane
  • Blockages or damage to scuppers, gutters, pipes or other components of the roof’s drainage system

What to do Next

If you’ve given your commercial or industrial roof a once-over and haven’t found the cause of your leak, it’s not surprising. The source of a leak is often not apparent.

It’s important that you don’t stop at that point, however, because a lack of urgency in what you do next could determine the extent of your roof damage and the cost of repairs.

Consider these next steps:

  1. Perform a walkthrough of your entire building to inspect for other water damage as multiple leaks sometimes occur.
  2. Mark the leak using colored tape or other signal so that you can find it again if it were to dry quickly.
  3. Rope off the area to prevent slipping and injury, and move equipment and supplies if they are at risk of being damaged.
  4. Contact your insurance agent to determine what is covered under your policy, if you are still under a warranty and to get the claim process started.
  5. Call a professional commercial roofing contractor who can assess the situation and advise the best course of action!

What Are Your Options

A professional commercial roofing contractor is the most qualified person to find the cause of a flat roof leak and assess the damage. Using the proper equipment and tools, a commercial roofer will employ techniques such as infrared inspections to uncover moisture and find the leak source. Furthermore, a commercial roofer will examine your entire roofing system to determine whether all of its components are working properly, to gauge the severity of areas damaged or deteriorated and to judge whether your roof has outlived its effectiveness.

A leak doesn’t have to result in a major expense. Often a simple repair to the damaged component is all that is needed.

Your commercial roof does have a life expectancy, however, and will eventually need to be replaced. If it’s time to replace your roof, a commercial roofing contractor will guide you through the process. It is generally best to replace your entire roof system at once rather than in parts as it is more cost-effective and it results in a single warranty document pertaining to the entirety of the new roof system. If budget is a concern, a common alternative is to divide the roof replacement into halves, doing one half per year in succession.

Best Practices for Tackling a Commercial Roof Leak

It is never a good idea to ignore a leak in your flat roof. Small problems can lead to major catastrophes if not addressed. Seek the assistance of an experienced, professional roofing contractor in order to ensure the proper repair or replacement of your commercial or industrial roof. You can also prevent problems before they happen by implementing an effective, ongoing maintenance program.

Let Roberts Roofing handle the burden of a commercial or industrial roof leak. Contact us at 440.946.2233 or fill out our contact form and a member of our team will be in touch.

Roberts Roofing has been a leading provider of innovative roofing solutions in Cleveland, Ohio since 1981. We provide commercial and industrial roof repair, replacement and maintenance to serve companies of all sizes, and we offer a combination of technical expertise, custom solutions and quality workmanship for every project.