January 1, 2022
Commercial Roof Maintenance

How to Prolong the Life of Your Commercial Roof

No doubt you’ve heard the phrase “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Benjamin Franklin was speaking about fire prevention when he originally uttered these famous words, but his sage advice is universal. And when it comes to commercial roofing, Ben Franklin couldn’t have been more right.

Commercial roofing is to business owners and facilities managers what residential roofing is to homeowners: the single most important thing that protects the building and everything inside. A properly constructed roof in good condition is your best defense against the elements and whatever mother nature throws your way. A failing roof, on the other hand, can lead to all sorts of costly problems, disrupt your day-to-day operations, and put your business and assets at risk.

Regular roof inspections, maintenance, and immediate repair are your best assurances that your building’s roof is in good working order. Commercial roofs are unique from residential roofs in their design and the materials used, but just like residential roofs, they can experience a variety of problems over time that often go undetected until leaks and other tell-tale signs of trouble begin to appear. Regular inspections by an experienced commercial roofing professional can expose potential problems before they occur, prevent costly damage, and extend the life of the roof.

The most common commercial roof problems include:

  • roof problemsUnprimed or poorly installed flashing separation, which causes 95% of flat roof leaks
  • Failing or debris-filled pitch pans due to recessed filler
  • Punctured or impacted roof membrane and broken seams due to poor installation
  • Too few fasteners in the base sheet and perimeter flashings
  • Missing vent and chimney caps
  • Standing water due to blocked drains and poor roof slope design
  • Damaged underlying substrate
  • debrisAged and failing caulking which should be inspected
  • Blisters, buckles, and cracks in asphalt-based roofing products

The most obvious signs of trouble are the visible water stains from a leak. Pin-pointing a leak in a flat roof is problematic as water run-off is much less predictable than on a pitched roof. To further compound the matter, by the time a leak is visible, other damage to the building has likely occurred from the accumulating moisture. In this case, an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure—or more!

At Pacific West Roofing we have more than forty-one years of roofing experience and our crews are commercial roofing experts. If it’s been a while since your commercial roof was inspected, or if you are seeing any problems, contact us today. We can inspect your commercial roof, make any of the necessary repairs, and advise you on a regular inspection and maintenance schedule to prolong the life of your roof and protect your assets.

Roof ventilation

Why Roof Ventilation Matters

The roof of your home covers the attic space, which is an area we like to think of as the lungs of your house. Your attic is constantly “breathing” in and out as fresh air enters, circulates, and exits to maintain a proper balance of temperature and humidity. This airflow is critical to the health of your home and the lifespan of your roof so proper roof ventilation is key.

Ensure Good Airflow

A properly vented roof will serve to regulate and maintain optimum air temperatures and humidity levels in your attic. Without proper ventilation, stagnant attics become ideal spaces for moisture to collect and mold to form, both of which are unhealthy conditions for your roof, your home, and you! An attic with sufficient ventilation will have equal levels of incoming and outgoing air, or air movement, and will be able to maintain ideal temperature and humidity levels year-round.

In the winter, a properly vented roof allows outside cold air to enter and replace warmer air, which rises with convection. This serves to keep your attic cold, and a cold attic is exactly what you want, especially in the event of an ice or snowstorm. When snow and ice melt too quickly, ice dams can form and cause damage to your roof and gutters. A slower melt-off helps prevent this from happening. A warm attic in winter is also more likely to become too humid and is at risk for moisture buildup and mold. Keeping air on the move prevents condensation on the cold plywood roof deck, which can lead to mold growth. 

During summer a well-vented roof helps regulate temperature by allowing hot air to flow out of the attic. As hot air rises, it escapes through the upper vents at the top. This continual flow of air is critical to preventing moisture build-up and condensation within your attic. Moisture in your attic will lead to other problems like mold and can shorten the lifespan of your roof, as well as damage your home’s main structure. 

Saves Energy and Money

Proper roof ventilation will also help you save energy and money. Improperly vented attics will result in excessive heat build-up during the hotter summer months, causing your air conditioner to work harder to keep your home cool. Excessive attic heat can also cause roof shingles to age at a faster rate. It can also cause the plywood decking of your roof to delaminate because the glue can’t keep up with the expansion 

Wasted energy, condensation, mold, ice dams, rotting roof decks, aging shingles, and a shortened roof-life all add up to expensive problems that proper roof and attic ventilation can help prevent.

types of ventsTypes of Vents and Their Purpose

Both upper roof vents and lower vents along the soffits are necessary to create the right balance and exchange of incoming and outgoing airflow. 

Roof vents allow rising hot air and moisture to escape from the attic, preventing heat build-up and condensation, 

roof vents

depending on the season. There are two types of roof vents: ridge vents and box vents. A ridge vent is an air exhaust vent installed on the peak of a roof. A box vent is a hole cut into the roof with a box cover, and while positioned high on the roof, box vents are typically placed near the ridge or peak.

Soffit venting allows cooler, fresh air, to flow into the attic at the lowest points. The soffit is the part of your roof overhang that meets your siding. Together with roof vents, soffit vents 

soffit venting

create a passive system that effectively enables air to flow into, up, and out of the attic.

There are two types of soffit vents: rectangular and continuous. Rectangular vents are cut into the blocking between the rafters of your home. With continuous venting, the soffit is vented all the way around the attic area. This type of venting is for closed soffits where the rafters are not visible. 

Pro tip: Always keep all of your roof and attic vents open and un-impeded by debris to maintain proper airflow. 

How do I know if my roof is properly vented?

Every roof needs both roof and soffit vents. Simply walking around your house and looking at your roof and eaves will tell you if you have vents, but this alone does not mean you have sufficient ventilation. Inspecting your attic for signs of moisture is a more reliable way to determine if you have adequate venting. Any moisture on the tips of nails is the first sign. You can also touch your ceiling just below your attic on a warm sunny day. If it feels hot, your attic may be overheating. If it is winter, you might grab a flashlight and inspect your attic for condensation. Excessive heat and moisture are signs your roof and attic are not properly vented.

Of course, the best way to tell if your roof’s ventilation system is adequate is to have a professional inspection. This is a service we offer at Pacific West Roofing. Our experienced inspectors will give you an honest assessment of your roof, attic, and vents, so you can have peace of mind knowing your roof is in good shape and sufficiently ventilated, or be alerted to any problems that should be addressed before they become costly repairs. Contact us today to schedule an inspection.

Roofing Tips

Winterize Your Roof With A 5-Point Inspection

Fall has settled in, along with the wind and rain. This means your roof has already had a taste of what’s to come in the winter months. For many here in the Willamette Valley, where we are blessed with an abundance of trees, it also means your gutters and roof valleys are already collecting debris. As autumn is the precursor to winter, now is the time to winterize your roof.

Why Winterizing Your Roof Matters

No matter the age of your roof, it is a good idea to do a routine inspection each fall, before the heavy wind, rain, and ice storms come. Regular roof review and maintenance will ensure your roof is free of debris, shingles are intact, and all penetrations (chimneys, vents, etc.) are leak-free. This will help prolong the life of your roof and could save you thousands of dollars in repairs down the road.

How to Winterize Your Roof in 5 Easy Steps

  1. repair missing shingleRepair missing shinglesThe only way to really know if you have missing shingles is to get up on your roof and take a look. Even if you have never seen evidence in your yard of roof debris after a storm, that doesn’t mean damage didn’t occur. It is a good idea to inspect your roof in the fall for any tears, or punctures and make any repairs before the heavy winds and rain of winter set in.
  2. Remove leaves and debris. Fir needles, leaves, and other debris collect in roof valleys, around skylights, chimneys, and vents, as well as gutters. If left unattended, these collection points become moisture traps and havens for pests that can also cause roof damage. Further, as debris piles up, it can create dams, diverting water under shingles and causing unnecessary leaks. The debris will also eventually find its way into your gutters. Besides overflowing during heavy rains, gutters that become too heavy with soaked leaves and other debris are at risk of pulling away from the roof.

    If any large branches are growing over your roof, it is a good idea to cut them back. This will help prevent larger branches and debris from falling onto your roof.

  3. ventInspect all roof penetrations. Skylights, chimneys, vents, and flashings are all potential leak points on a roof and should be inspected once a year to ensure all are properly sealed. Look for missing shingles around each area. Check pipe flashing boots for splits. Make sure there is adequate caulking around penetration points like chimney corners, as well as exposed nail heads along ridges, and the front edges of flashings and vents.
  4. mossTreat for moss. Moss holds water and if left to grow unchecked can become a heavy blanket on your roof. Moss is also a prime breeding ground for bacteria and mold and can lead to rot which will shorten the lifespan of your roof.
  5. Check for damage from pests. Nesting birds, rodents, and insects can all cause damage to a roof. Even minor damage can lead to major problems and expensive repairs. Addressing the issue through a method of pest control, even if it’s simply removing a nest, will help protect and extend the life of your roof.

Bonus tip!

6. Insulate your attic. This is an often overlooked area when it comes to inspecting and winterizing a roof. Attic insulation does more than regulate the temperature in your home. Proper insulation can also stop leaks by preventing heat transfer and slowing or stopping snow and ice from melting on your roof.

We know getting up on the roof is not something most homeowners relish, but an annual roof inspection is a necessary step to extending the life of your roof and protecting your home. Our experienced roof technicians offer complete roof inspection, maintenance, and repair services so you can remain safely on the ground. Give us a call today, before you discover a leak later in the season!

 If you are determined to do your own inspection and repairs, here’s a pro-tip that could save your life: install permanent roof anchors! This is a service we offer and we would be happy to do this for you.

Portland Roofing Contractor Since 1980

CCB# 169414