The Anatomy of a Roof Leak (Pt. 2)

In last week’s blog, Why Is My Roof Leaking? we introduced you to Kelly, a facility manager with questions about why leaks happen, why they can be difficult to locate, and what can be done to prevent leaks in the future. In Part 2, we’ll break down the anatomy of a roof leak, to help you better understand the destructive capabilities of water penetrating into your facility.

When asked what a roof leak is, most people would describe a situation in which water from outside the building has made its way inside a building. While this is technically correct the truth is much more complicated.

The Anatomy of a Roof Leak

The first part of this process involves water getting through the membrane. Once it’s through the membrane, the moisture then soaks into the next layer below, the Roof Board (or coverboard, see diagram above), which is designed to protect the insulation and deck beneath. The moisture then softens the coverboard, degrading it, and making the roof more susceptible to damage from foot traffic and impacts from hail and debris.

To better illustrate this point, imagine dropping a pencil onto a piece of paper sitting on your desk. The pencil is likely to bounce off the desk with little to no harm done to the paper. Now imagine dropping the same pencil onto the same paper, but this time the paper is on carpet. This time the pencil broke through the paper due to the carpet absorbing the impact instead of deflecting it.

Damage from a roof leak.

Once the water has saturated the coverboard, it then begins to soak into the next layer of your roof, the ISO board. The moisture rots away the organic fibers of the ISO board, creating a loss of insulation that will drive your energy cost up.

Once the coverboard and insulation have become saturated, the water will begin seeping onto the roof deck and begin the process of rusting the deck and metal fasters. Over time this can damage the structural integrity of the deck.

Once enough water was made it’s way through the membrane, coverboard, insulation, and onto the roof deck, it will work its way through penetrations from fasteners and joints on the deck and move down to the drop ceiling or sheetrock below. This is what causes those lovely brown spots on the ceiling that we all know and hate. The important thing to remember here is to keep in mind the damage that has already occurred by the time you see the water ruining your ceiling.

Once the water has made it through the ceiling, it has nowhere else to go besides down, onto whatever is below it. Hopefully, it’s a concrete floor that doesn’t see much foot traffic, but often water finds its way down onto your hardwood floors, computers, server bank, cash registers, and electrical equipment. The problem with this entire scenario is that water has likely been making its way into your facility for an extended amount of time and you weren’t even aware of it. By the time you notice water leaking into your facility, a lot of damage has already been done to the layers above

Roof Asset Management

If you’re already dealing with water leaking into your building, it’s too late for preventative measures, repairs will have to be made. The good news is that once the repairs have been made, you can adopt a regularly scheduled maintenance program that will help prevent future leaks from occurring.

Besides your employees, your facility’s next most important asset is the roof. It protects every other part of your facility, from inventory and equipment to supplies and personnel. Adopting a Roof Asset Management program, provided by Top-Tier roofing contractors, like RoofConnect, that can work with you to create a yearly maintenance and inspection program that will save you money year over year. RoofConnect’s Roof Asset Management program provides comprehensive, umbrella protection for your roof system, that can prevent minor issues from becoming expensive headaches. What’s more is that the program can be tailored to the unique needs of the customer, ensuring that the program is exactly what you need.

If you’re interested in extending the life of your roof system or have questions about Roof Asset Management, please contact our team of professionals at RoofConnect. Together, we can create a plan to protect your commercial roof!

Call 877.942.5613 or visit –

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