The Top 10 Signs Your Industrial – Commercial Flat Roof Needs Replacing

Aerial roof inspection

Is your commercial-industrial roof showing the signs it may be time for a replacement? Are you a commercial-industrial property owner grappling with whether to repair or replace your roof? It’s a common dilemma. Landlords and tenants may put off roof replacement because of budgeting or cash flow, uncertainty about the roof’s condition, business disruption, or other reasons. However, like the proverbial money pit, repairs become more and more frequent as your roof ages—even if it is well-maintained. With each new leak comes the danger of damage to interior finishings and equipment/inventory.

This article provides the top 10 signs that it may be time to call your roofing contractor about replacing your low-slope commercial roof.


Do you know if your commercial low-slope roof needs replacing?

A roof is one of your commercial or industrial property’s most valuable assets, protecting your workers, inventory, office machinery, and more. The question at hand is how long should you keep spending money on repairing your roof before it’s time to replace it? If you replace too soon, you won’t extract the full value of your roof asset. If you wait too long, repair costs may be excessive and the extent of damage to be expected during the roof replacement process will be much more extensive.  The last point can not be emphasized enough – a much more worry free roofing project can be expected when the roof membrane is still performing.

 One consideration is how much risk you take by delaying replacement. We commonly think of leaks as the big problem—but the actual problem is the longer-term effects of the leaks and moisture. Sometimes known problems are left unaddressed. Other times, landlords are unaware of underlying issues. In either case, more frequent leaks will increase the risk that water damage will affect your inventory, equipment, and interior finishings.

Look for these 10 signs to decide if its time to replace your commercial roof

If you see the following conditions in your building, the best advice is to call your roofing contractor for an inspection and to discuss the cost and value of repairing the existing damage versus investing in a roof that will provide another 20 or more years of protection.

1. Recurring leaks

Leaks can cause significant damage to the interior, including the walls, ceilings, and insulation, leading to larger-scale deterioration. If you have continued making repairs but still experience persistent water intrusion, patchwork repairs won’t be enough to resolve the problem. Ask your roofer to provide a summary of repairs over the preceding 5 years to see the extent of monies expended.

2. Extensive water damage

Visible signs of interior water damage–including staining, mould growth, or warping of ceiling tiles and walls–are critical indicators of roof failure.

3. An aging roof

Most commercial roofing systems are designed to last 20 to 25 years. Consider replacing a roof that is approaching or has surpassed its expected service life.

4. Collapsing insulation

Flutes, the repeated trenches in corrugated metal deck substrate, give the roof deck its strength. If sections of the roof membrane and insulation have collapsed into the deck flutes, the roof insulation may be saturated, causing leaks and ongoing deterioration sometimes even days after the last rainfall.

5. Blisters, ridges or cracks in the membrane

Moisture, natural wear and tear and changes in air temperature can also cause blistering and cracking in the roof membrane. These issues often imply that moisture has compromised the roof’s structural integrity.  Sometimes roof membranes will also shrink and pull away from the parapet walls. The resulting repairs can get expensive depending on the extent of the problem.

Do I Need a New Roof?

6. Energy inefficiency

A commercial roof and insulation play a significant role in maintaining energy costs. Some older roofs are energy-inefficient because they lack proper insulation. An unexpected rise in energy bills for a building may signal that the insulation is compromised. In either case, replacing the roof with modern materials improves insulation and reduces heating and cooling costs.  Also, wet insulation loses its Rvalue in a very significant manner.

7. Significant deterioration of roofing materials

No matter how durable, no roofing material lasts forever. Harsh weather, UV exposure, thermal shock, poor drainage, improper maintenance, or simply aging can all cause roofing materials to deteriorate. A reliable roofing contractor can help you determine if overall deterioration demands a roof replacement. A reliable roofing contractor can help you determine if overall deterioration demands a roof replacement.

Signs to replace your commercial roof - Elite Roofing.

8. Changes in building use or roof space

Commercial and industrial roof design reflects the qualities required for specific occupants, industries, and purposes–such as food manufacturers, industrial warehouses, and residential conversions. Replacing the roof may make sense when repurposing a building to avoid problems with future occupants in a different type of business.  Also, a clean roof with few penetrations may turn into a very busy area with many projections for skylights, equipment, solar PV systems etc. It’s best to plan your roof replacement before the change in use of the premises or use of roof space.

9. Upcoming additions or restorations

Replacing the existing roof is a smart idea when there is an upcoming building addition or large restoration project on the horizon, especially in the final years of estimated remaining useful life. We have also been involved in project additions where, as the result of planned construction, roof access will become much more difficult. This may dictate that a roof replacement will need to be considered earlier than originally planned.

10. Asset sales and re-financing properties

A roof inspection is part of the due diligence cycle when selling a building. The findings and the agreement between the parties may determine if a roof replacement is required. The same situation occurs when refinancing a property with a mortgage lender, where holdbacks can be taken against the cost of a roof replacement subject to either a condition assessment or consideration of the age and composition of the roof assembly. Similar issues might also occur with an intergenerational transfer of building ownership, where the older generation wants to ensure the roof is in top condition before assets are bequeathed to the next generation.

Get “repair or replace” advice from a trusted roofing contractor

Should you wait a few years to get your commercial roof replaced or do it sooner rather than later? The answer isn’t always obvious. These top ten signs to replace your commercial roof should help you decide if it’s the right time to talk with a roofing contractor about your options. Choose a reputable roofing company specializing in commercial and industrial low-slope roofs to help you make the most appropriate decision for your situation.  

Elite Roofing is Toronto’s choice for commercial, industrial, and institutional property owners.  For three generations, our loyal customers have counted on us for the best in repair, replacement, inspection, and emergency services. Contact us today to learn about our wide range of high-quality roofing services.