Don’t Forget The Vent: What You Need To Know About Flat Roof Damage, Condensation, and Ventilation

What You Need To Know About Flat Roof Damage, Condensation, and Ventilation

Flat roof damage as a result of ineffective ventilation is something that comes up routinely in the winter months. If you think that your roof is leaking, it may in fact be condensation that is the result of gaps in the structure of your flat roof. During the winter, heat from inside rises and is met with freezing temperatures outside. If your roof is not properly ventilated, this air turns to water that is then absorbed by the surrounding materials of your roof.

This absorption can cause issues like rot, mold, and in severe cases, can compromise the integrity of your roof. It can be difficult to recognize when your roof is in need of this kind of maintenance, so we’ve answered your top ventilation questions:

How can I tell if I’ve got a ventilation problem on my flat roof? 

The first thing to take note of when assessing the health of your flat roof is when the commercial or industrial building in question was constructed. If your building was built pre-1970, there’s a good chance that there is a ventilation issue regardless of obvious problems. The importance of energy efficiency is a relatively new concept, and builders likely did not pay as much attention to insulation and ventilation during a pre-1970 build.

Poor ventilation and circulation can result in condensation or inefficient circulation of air throughout your building, which can seriously affect your energy costs.  It is difficult to assess this, which is why at Elite Roofing, we provide a full inspection of your building and assess any maintenance concerns. If you are having ventilation issues in an older building, there are solutions that can be put in place to maximize your energy efficiency and minimize future damage to your structure.

What causes ventilation issues on a flat roof? 

The most common ventilation issues are caused by penetrations to the flat roof that are sealed incorrectly. Penetrations are found in almost any building. HVAC units are routinely added and removed, and if the penetration remains, it will cause ventilation issues. If a penetration was sealed incorrectly, there may be condensation building directly beneath your HVAC unit. If you have easy access to your HVAC system, examine the edges and around the top and bottom. If there is moisture there, it may be an indication of a bigger problem.

Is a ventilation issue the same as a leak? 

When most business owners call us with condensation concerns, initially they think that there is a leak in the roof. Leaks in the roof are confined to a certain location, and usually show up with rain or extremely cold temperatures. A ventilation issue will appear as condensation or frost inside the building.

How can I make sure I don’t have ventilation issues with a new commercial or industrial property? 

When looking at new commercial or industrial properties, it’s important to have a professional assessment of the quality of your flat roof, no matter what the season. Preventative maintenance is always the best case scenario for us and for our customers. Ventilation issues are most apparent during times where the inside of your building and the outside have stark temperature differences. Inside heat with below-zero temperatures outside can reveal ventilation problems, as well as air-conditioning units in summer heat. Getting an assessment before you sign a new building lease is a critical step in the process of finding your new space. Many times, buildings will have penetrations from equipment that haven’t been sealed, or ventilation issues that haven’t been addressed properly.

What to do next: 

If you are noticing moisture, or if any of these issues ring a bell, contact your roofing company immediately. Ventilation issues can cause serious problems to the integrity of your roof, and the longer they are allowed to fester, the more significant the damage can become. If you’re not sure about how to assess your flat roof, Elite Roofing offers inspections and preventative maintenance for your building. Our customer service representatives are available to our customers 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, so that you can rest assured that your building is covered in the event of any ventilation issues.