For property managers of commercial buildings, a leaky roof can pose serious problems for your building.

Without prior knowledge of the signs of a leaking roof, a leak can sometimes go unnoticed until it is costly.

In this blog, we will cover the common causes of roof leaks in commercial buildings and then explain precisely what problems these leaks can cause for your building.

If you are a property manager who wants to learn more about the signs of a leaking roof, you are in the right place!

Commercial Roof inspection

Commercial Roof inspection for damages.

What Causes Leaks on a Commerical Roof?

Because of their size, commercial buildings have roofs constructed entirely differently than residential roofs.

Thus, the locations and causes of leaks are unique to commercial roofing and need to be addressed separately.

Let’s start with the most common cause of a leaking roof.

Damaged Substrate/Roof Membrane:

To those who don’t know, a roof’s substrate is the base structure on which a roofing system is applied.

These come in various forms. The most common substrates in commercial roofing are metal, concrete, or SPF substrates.

As we said, damage to the substrate is the #1 cause of leaks in commercial roofing.

The most common cause of a damaged substrate is heavy foot traffic, fallen debris following severe weather, or the weight of heavy equipment.

Comprised Seals:

All around a commercial roof are elements like skylights, HVAC units, and other penetrations that need to be sealed to maintain water impermeability.

With time, these seals may become damaged or deteriorate.

When this happens, water can seep through the cracks the seals are designed to protect, causing water to enter your building.

Issues With Drainage Systems:

Another major cause of commercial roofing leaks is faulty or damaged drainage systems.

Basically, when the water has no place to drain properly, it will find its way into weak points in your roof.

This accumulation is called ponding water and will eventually seep into your building, damaging your building’s structural elements.

A significant cause of drainage issues is debris accumulating in your drainage systems.

Damaged Flashing:

Similar to your roof’s seals, flashing is a metal strip designed to protect your roofing system at critical joints.

When flashing becomes damaged, your roof loses its water resistance, allowing your roof to leak into the building.


How Leaking Roofs Can Damage Commercial Buildings, Harm Tenants & Affect Million-Dollar Operations

Now that we’ve covered what causes a leaking roof, let’s talk about how these leaks damage commercial properties.

It’s important to say that not only can these problems cause financial problems, but they also can be hazardous to the health of the people who use the building!

Structural Damage:

As leaking water settles inside your building’s structural elements, severe damages occur.

To start, leaking water that reaches your building will damage the wooden elements of the building’s structure.

These include the framing, rafters, joists, and even exterior trim.

Once rotting occurs in these wooden elements, a professional contractor must do intensive repairs or even an entire roof replacement, both of which are costly.

Of course, beyond the costs, this can pose a serious risk for tenants of the building.

If a ceiling has experienced significant damage due to leaks, it may collapse, causing catastrophic damage to property and inhabitants.

On the less extreme side, a leaking apartment roof guarantees that your tenants will complain.

When this happens, the property manager may be fired.

One of the best ways to detect potential structural moisture damage is an infrared moisture survey.

To learn more about how Infrared surveys work, check out this blog we wrote on the topic.

Increased Energy Bills:

One of the less intuitive consequences of a leaking roof is increased energy bills.

With a leaking roof, the insulation inside your roof may become saturated with water, drastically reducing its efficiency.

When this happens, a building will lose both warm and cool air, causing an increase in energy bills in all seasons.

Fire Hazard:

Now, this problem seems nearly paradoxical at first: how can leaking water cause a fire?

The answer lies in the electrical systems.

When leaking water reaches areas of your building with electrical elements, a short can happen.

If an electrical short happens, fire risk is possible for your building.

Mold/Mildew Accumulation:

One of the most common consequences of a leaking roof is the build-up of mold and mildew.

As mold builds up, it attacks porous elements of your building, such as tiles, walls, and wood framing.

Worse, with an HVAC system, mold can quickly spread around your building.

Damage to your building is not the only problem mold presents.

According to the EPA, mold exposure commonly causes allergic reactions in those exposed.

Equally, mold may also trigger asthma attacks in those susceptible.

Halted Business Operations:

When a leaking roof has caused significant damage, it is often necessary to stop daily operations for repairs, which can cost a business millions of dollars.

Let’s demonstrate this with an example.

You are the property manager of a warehouse that assembles computers.

You have been neglecting the regular inspections of your roof, and now a leak has caused the warehouse to flood with water.

While this leak is being fixed, the production line has halted, and the company is losing one million dollars per day.

After the leak is fixed, the warehouse fires you and hires a new Property Manager who is more responsive to maintenance.

Sadly, all of this could be avoided with regular inspection and roof maintenance.


How Instacoat Premium Products Protect Against Leaks

Here at Instacoat, we know exactly how costly roof leaks can be for commercial property managers.

That’s why we developed our suite of waterproofing products!

Our products are superior fluid rubbers that combine the elastic properties of a modified latex with the weatherproofing and waterproofing qualities of a highly refined liquid rubber combined with other reflective new technologies like Silicone and Urethane Systems.

What this means for property managers is an increased layer of protection for your roof against leaks.

This system works with various substrates and can be used in new construction as well as existing roofs.

With an IPP Roofing/Waterproofing system, property managers can relax knowing they have a product working to keep their building dry.

Thank you for reading!


At Instacoat Premium Products, we are happy to bring our customers these blogs to offer free educational content.

If you have more questions about how to stop a leaking roof, please reach out to us!

(877) 552-­6724

Or, head to our “Contact Us” page of the IPP website and leave a message.