What Causes Roof Damage?

slightly worn roof

Issues With Your Roof

Just like the roof on your home, businesses experience commercial roof damage too. Because they are typically larger in square footage and a higher elevation than most houses, they experience more damage. Which is why a routine commercial roof inspection on a routine schedule is important.

Commercial roof inspectors have a specific commercial flat roof inspection checklist they follow, just as they do a residential roof inspection, but it is more detailed, and can take longer to complete. The commercial roof inspection report will have more details than a residential roof inspection, which is why there are roof inspectors that specialize in commercial but can do both types of inspections. Commercial roof damage is often hidden, and it takes experience and knowledge of what to look for when doing a commercial structure’s roof inspection.

What Do Roof Inspectors Look For?

A commercial roof is large and is just waiting for debris, hail, ice, rain, snow, and whatever else Mother Nature throws out, not to mention the constant UV rays from the sun. All of this can cause do significant commercial roof damage without you’re even knowing what is happening. Let’s not forget about the foot traffic a commercial roof has with other contractors doing their jobs like an electrician, HVAC, and plumbers. 

Therefore, a routine roof inspection by your maintenance team once a month is recommended and a routine schedule of a professional commercial roof inspection. With these inspections, they can catch issues before they become a problem and create an expensive commercial roof repair or re-roofing. 

The following is a 10-Point checklist for commercial roof inspections:   

Detailed Roof Inspection

A professional commercial roof inspection will check the following problem areas: 

  • Decking – any signs of rot that could indicate commercial roof damage
  • Surface Membranes – any tears or loose edges
  • Roof Vents – making sure flashing and rubber boots are in place
  • Flashing – checking around HVAC and plumbing pipes, vents, other protrusions
  • Gutters and Drainage – make sure gutters are in place and connected, drainage is adequate with no water pooling on the roof 


A commercial roof inspector will look for debris that should be removed before commercial roof damage is done from any branches or other debris. They will note if the roof has leaves and other trash that could block the drains and keep water from draining. 

Inspect Parapet Walls

A commercial roof inspection will include checking for any terminations on the parapet walls that have not been properly sealed. The inspector will check for any signs of cracking or failure. Anything that is found should be addressed immediately to prevent larger commercial roof damage later. 

The Downspouts

A commercial roof inspector will make sure downspouts are in place and end at the ground level and they are clear and flowing freely, redirecting water out and away from the building.

Edge Detail

A commercial roof inspection will include examining the edge details, noting that the edge materials are secured tightly and terminated. If they find any gaps or loose edges, they should be addressed immediately to prevent any extensive commercial roof damage. 

Ponding Water

A commercial roof inspection will look for water ponding, usually close to drains that are blocked. If water has been there for a while, they can tell by the color and the roof stains. If they see any, they will inspect further for possible underlying commercial roof damage. 


A professional commercial roof inspector will check the flashing details at the curbs, stacks, and walls, looking for cracks or crevices that need to be repaired, or the flashing replaced to prevent any commercial roof damage. 

Cracks or Tears

A thorough commercial roof inspection will include looking for any cuts or tears in the roofing membrane system. If they find any, the inspector will recommend immediate repair or replacement before any structural damages happen.   

Check the Drains and Gutters

They inspect drains and gutters to make sure they are in proper working order to prevent ponding water. Ponding water can damage commercial roofing membrane, causing severe and expensive commercial roof damage.

Roof Surfaces

A professional commercial roof inspection will include the roof edge, making sure none are lifted or torn. 

How Often Should a Roof be Inspected?

Commercial roofing should be professionally inspected every autumn/fall. This is before chilly rains, ice, snow, and winds arrive for the winter. A new commercial roof should be inspected every five years, then again at 10 years, 13 years, 15 years, and every 2 years until replaced.

How Long Does it Take to Inspect a Roof?

As big as a commercial structure is, a professional roofing inspection doesn’t take much longer than a residential roof inspection.  For a 20,000 square foot sized commercial building, a professional roofing inspection can take up to one hour.

How Many Years Does a Roof Last?

There are several factors in determining the lifespan of a commercial roof, such as the climate and environment. A TPO commercial roofing has a life expectancy for up to 30 years and an EPDM roof system has a life expectancy of up to 35 years. The climate and environment have a lot to do with the life of a commercial roof, as does a monthly inspection by the maintenance staff.

stained tpo roofing system

How Do I Know When My Roof Needs to be Replaced?

If your commercial building is exhibiting or experiencing any of the following commercial roof damage, it is time to replace it:


Obvious if there is water leaking inside and on top of everyone’s head, you have commercial roof damage. However, not all leaks are visible like that, which is why you need a commercial roof inspection once a year. They can find leaks that aren’t noticeable. Other outward signs of commercial roof damage that indicates a leak would be mold or water stained ceilings and that moldy smell.


If your maintenance crew or the professional roof inspector find blistering on the roofing membrane, there could be water under those blisters. That water is causing commercial roof damage and needs to be replaced.

Membrane Damage

A commercial building typically has a flat roof, and this is another reason the monthly roof inspections by the maintenance crew and the annual professional roofing inspections are necessary.  They will spot any balding spots or lifted membrane. Both indicate that the membrane isn’t sealed properly, and it is time for roof replacement.

Commercial buildings are expensive on their own, and when you consider the maintenance for one, it is apparent that the monthly and annual roof inspections are key. A healthy roof means a healthy building and that can be an overall money saver. Call 214-471-6210 today for your commercial roof damage repair in Frisco , TX.