The Surprising Cost of a Roof Leak

Here is a story how saving a $150 cost for a leak repair could cost you your roof.

Last summer I was asked to inspect a building that had two reported roof leaks. The building had been vacant for two years and because it was a vacant building, the leaks were not addressed during that time. Apart from some significant ponding because the debris was never cleared from the drains, the 10 year old roof looked pretty good. All the typical problems associated with an EPDM rubber roof (seam failure, penetration flashing issues, and shrinking at the perimeter) were not apparent.

When inspecting the actual leak areas, the only issues we found were three small punctures.

Without further inspection it would appear that the leaks could be repaired, and that the roof would last several more years before requiring replacement. A moisture scan, however, revealed a much more significant yet hidden issue.

Our nuclear moisture scanner revealed that almost 75% of the insulation beneath the roof was completely saturated. If the roof and insulation are not replaced, the roof deck will rot, and there may be issues with mold in the roofing assembly, not to mention that wet insulation significantly reduces the R-Value of the insulation. Had the punctures been repaired when the leaks first started showing up, the roof could have been maintained for another decade! Instead of spending $150 on a service call two years ago, the owner now has to spend tens of thousands of dollars to tear off the existing roofing and insulation and replace it with an entirely new assembly. Roof leaks are not always just a nuisance; they can be symptoms of potentially much larger issues. Addressing leaks as they occur will increase the life of your roof. Better yet, proactively maintaining your roof so the leaks never occur in the first place will dramatically increase the life of your roof and can pay you back many times over. It’s very important to be aware of the state of your roof, because even something that appears to be a small problem can quickly turn into a much larger issue.

Want to know more? Give me a call at WSRS/ 616.243.4040 and ask for Nate. I will be glad to tell you more about how you can increase the life of your old roof.