Detecting Roof Leaks and Moisture in your Self-Storage Facility

What Causes Leaks and Moisture in Self-Storage Facilities?
Access Storage East York facility - Elite Roofing completed the roof on this new construction project

The success of your business depends on keeping your tenants’ units safe and dry—and you can’t do that with roof leaks and moisture in your self-storage facility. A properly installed, well-maintained roof is essential to providing a dry, temperature-controlled environment to safeguard valuables. A roof is one of the major components (and potential areas of expense) on your property. Facility owners should do everything possible to ensure its longevity and control costs.

One way you can avoid the consequences of a faulty roof is by knowing how to detect leaks. What do you do when you spot telltale signs? Read on to find out what you need to know.


What Causes Roof Leaks and Moisture in Self-Storage Facilities?

Flat roofs are notoriously vulnerable, especially with Toronto’ severe seasonal changes in climate. A self-storage facility’s roof and drainage systems must be built and maintained to withstand rain and snow storms, ice, freeze-and-thaw cycles, high winds, and other storm-related events.


Detecting Flat Roof Leaks in self storage facilities.
Access Storage East York facility – Elite Roofing completed the roof on this new construction project – close up view


The starting point of protecting your roof is hiring top-rated roofing professionals.

Expert workmanship will decrease the risk of these common flat-roof pitfalls

  • Poor Installation: Improper installation of roof projections can make the roof less resistant to the elements and other dangers, prematurely aging a roof and promoting leaks, mould, and other problems.
  • Sealing Issues: Improper seals on seams in the roof membrane are a very common reason new roof systems fail. Openings can allow water to seep into other parts of the roof assembly—compromising structural integrity and shortening roof life.
  • Ponding Water and Drainage: Pooling water can clog drainage systems, attract insects and pests, and promote the growth of mould, bacteria, and vegetation. Further, Canada’s freeze-and-thaw cycle melts and refreezes ponding water, causing cracks, gaps, and other damage.  If the roof holds standing water then there is always a greater risk that any leak will cause more damage [from water entry inside the premises] than a roof that drains properly.
  • Wear and Tear: An aging or poorly maintained roof is more prone to leaks, seam failure, blisters, shrinkage, deterioration, damaged or missing accessories, tenting, surface erosion, and other costly problems.  
  • Damaged Roofing Material: Damaged or decaying roofing materials can cause any part of the roof system to fail, making regular inspection and maintenance a priority.
  • Other Dangers: Leaks and moisture can pose additional dangers, such as slips and falls by employees and customers, damage to tenants’ belongings, wet insulation, and energy loss—all of which have associated costs and can affect the health of employees and customers.

No matter the cause of a roofing problem and the damage caused, the longer the problem is undetected or ignored, the worse it will become, underscoring the importance of keeping the roof in good condition.


DIY Inspection for Self-Storage Flat Roof Leaks and Moisture

Even if you abide by roof maintenance guidelines, regular walk-throughs to look for signs of leaks and moisture are necessary.

  • Interior Signs: A layperson can often spot visible signs of moisture, including water stains, mould growth, and musty odours. However, leaks can be hard to detect unless there is water on the floor. Many tenants access their premises only periodically, so leaks might not be reported until they become a significant problem. Consider using cameras to discover water leaks early, especially when storage units are open to the underside of the roof substrate above. You may also want to explore new leak-detection technologies such as smart building sensors.
  • Exterior Signs: A regular rooftop check can show visible problems such as deteriorating roofing materials, blistering, ponding water, and even materials left by HVAC and other tradespeople.
  • Energy bill spikes: A spike in energy bills can signal leaks that the insulating property of the roof assembly has degraded, causing heat or cool air to escape. 

Self-storage property owners should know the causes, signs, and results of leaks and moisture. How to maintain your roof and prevent damage from happening in the first place? Read on for tips to help you protect your roof and keep it in top condition.


How to Prevent Damage and Maintain Your Self-Storage Flat Roof 

Schedule Twice-Yearly Roof Inspections

A rooftop visual inspection by the property manager is a good start, but it’s only a first step. As we’ve mentioned, scheduling twice-yearly inspections by an experienced professional roofer is the best way to monitor your roof’s condition, enabling you to plan for timely repairs, keep in compliance with your warranty, and determine how to budget for and schedule major repairs, restoration, or replacement.


Long-Term Strategies for Leak Prevention on a flat roof.
Apple Storage Oakville facility – the flat roof was partially replaced by Elite Roofing – looking north

Take Preventive Measures

As Benjamin Franklin famously said, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” However, you may not be able to plan for every potential situation, but by taking these five preventive measures, you will undoubtedly save money, avoid hassle, and protect goods in storage.

  • Keep the roof clean: Remove debris, fallen leaves, objects that may hold water, and equipment that can cause punctures, ponding, blistering, splitting, or rusting if the roof is metal.      
  • Address Drainage Issues: Help prevent ponding by monitoring drains and downspouts, which can become clogged by vegetation and debris.
  • Check the Roof after Storms: Check the roof after a weather event for punctures, splits, clogged drainage systems, or other damage.  
  • Plan for Easy Detection: Maintain hallway corridors along exterior walls to make leaks and potential problems more visible. 
  • Make Repairs Promptly: Call your roofer promptly when you notice signs of leaks or moisture.


Dealing with Flat Roof Repairs and Restoration

Unexpected leaks can happen—especially as a roof ages. Determine the source of any leaks and take steps to manage them temporarily, such as using a water diverter tarp. These steps will help prevent further damage until professional help arrives.

If DIY actions appear to stop the leak, there may still be hidden water damage. Call a professional roofer to identify its cause and assess hidden water damage to insulation and other unseen areas.


Long-Term Strategies for Leak Prevention

In case of severe damage or an aging roof, you can talk to a professional about roof restoration. Restoration increases its longevity at a fraction of the cost of replacement. A professional can analyze the condition of your roof structure to determine which option is the best for your roof. These options include: repair, restore, or reroof. Additionally, you can explore upgrading to modern roofing materials that offer better leak resistance and temperature control.


Detecting Flat Roof Leaks at your Toronto Self Storage Facility.
Apple Storage Oakville facility – the flat roof was partially replaced by Elite Roofing – looking southwest


Regardless of your roofing choices, prioritize semi-annual inspections and maintenance by a skilled roofer.


Planning Helps Prevent Self-Storage Flat Roof Leaks and Moisture

With your knowledge of flat roof vulnerabilities, signs, and preventive measures, consider the next steps to safeguard your roof.

Ask yourself these two questions:

(1) Is all your maintenance up-to-date?

(2) Have you scheduled your twice-yearly inspections? If the answer to either of these questions is no, it’s time to call your professional roofer today.

Elite Roofing is the trusted roofing company in Toronto, setting the highest standards for workmanship, customer service, and integrity. If the roof of your self-storage property needs attention, or if you need to set up an inspection and maintenance schedule, get in touch with us here. Our team of experts is here to help 24/7. That’s the Elite Advantage.