Matrix Roofing Systems, Inc.


10 Causes of Commercial Roof Failure

commercial roof failure

It’s no surprise that commercial roofs don’t last forever. Over time, various factors can play a part in your commercial roof’s longevity; some can be avoided, and others can be mitigated with regular maintenance. All building owners and property managers need to be informed of what causes commercial roof failure. Here is a list of ten of the most common reasons commercial roofs fail.

Avoidable Causes of Commerical Roof Failure 

Fortunately, some of the problems that roofs incur can be sidestepped with proper research and care. 


Remembering to schedule your quarterly or bi-yearly inspections can be a pain when plenty of other things are going on. But your roof is one thing you don’t want to forget about and fall to the wayside. The number one preventable cause of commercial roof failure is not scheduling regular maintenance. Delaying necessary maintenance even by a few weeks can cause minor problems to become bigger ones. Be sure to schedule your inspections and maintenance ahead of time, so you never let one slip through the cracks.


Poor workmanship is one of the leading causes of roof failure, especially for new roofs. Anyone can call themselves commercial roofing experts, but it doesn’t mean they have the certifications, licenses, and training to back those claims up. When choosing a roofing contractor, make sure to thoroughly vet them by checking their credentials and asking for references before just hiring the lowest bidder for your commercial roof job. 


It is essential to note that not all roofing materials are made equally. There are three basic types of single-ply membranes – EPDM, PVC, & TPO – each with different features, benefits, and performance characteristics. And there are multiple manufacturers of each of these membranes. There are also numerous manufacturers of modified bitumen membranes, as well as hot asphalt and coal tar roof systems. Not every roof system is suitable for every application. Picking the right roof system for your specific application will ensure that your new roof performs beyond your expectations.


Roofs are out of sight, and for many building owners, out of mind. Forgetting to attend to – or ignoring – minor problems that don’t impact your day-to-day operations is only human nature. However, ignoring minor roofing problems is what leads to premature failure. A small leak that doesn’t seem like much today can saturate thousands of square feet of insulation if left unrepaired. This can affect the long-term performance of your roof system, as well as the warranty. Save yourself the headache and have your roofing contractor fix all problems as soon as you notice them.

Equipment Installs and/or Removals

If your commercial roof also has an HVAC system or any other equipment that requires replacement, it needs to be done carefully and correctly. Make sure to include your roofing contractor in the replacement process to avoid any extensive damage or failure from incorrectly installed or removed rooftop equipment. The best way to do this is to put your roofing contractor and mechanical contractor in touch with each other BEFORE the mechanical contractor orders his materials.


While normal, light foot traffic isn’t an issue for most roofs, limiting roof access and the amount of foot traffic is highly recommended. Keeping a log of who goes up to the roof, when they arrived, and when they left lets people know they will be held accountable for what they do while on the roof.

Changes to Building Usage

Often, people don’t realize what goes on inside your building can impact your roofing system. For example, suppose your property was once used as a warehouse but is now a commercial kitchen. In that case, this can affect the amount of traffic the roof sees, the type of exhaust emissions onto the roof, and the effect of wear and tear on the roofing system. Speak with your contractor if the utilization of your building changes to see if any changes to the roofing system are necessary.

Unavoidable Causes of Commercial Roof Failure 

Unfortunately, some of the things that eventually lead to commercial roof failure are unavoidable, even with preventative measures. Here are a few causes of roof failure that are unavoidable.

Exposure to the Elements

Exposure to the elements is unavoidable for your rooftop. Your roof’s job is to protect the inside of the building from any of the elements. However, exposure to extreme weather, heat, and UV rays can all lead to your roof’s deterioration. Therefore, it’s imperative to stay on top of inspections and preventative maintenance.


Water, in all its forms – rain, snow, sleet, hale, ice – contributes to the deterioration and eventual failure of nearly every roof system installed. When water intrusion is detected, it is essential to contact your commercial roofing contractor immediately to prevent additional damage that could accelerate the deterioration of your roof.


Preventative care and regular maintenance will extend the life of your roof system. We have seen roofs installed correctly and maintained last 30-40 years. Unfortunately, what is more common, are roofs that are correctly installed but not cared for and maintained, failing before the warranties have expired. Regardless, your roof will eventually need to be replaced, and when that time comes, Matrix Roofing Systems is here to help guide you through the process.

For more information, contact the commercial roofing leaders in the mid-Atlantic at Matrix Roofing by calling 267-642-5027 or emailing us.

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