Check Up On the Roof

by Katie Lee

Common issues that shorten your roof’s lifespan, and how to avoid them.

By Christy Rhone

Let’s take a look at a few common issues that can shorten a roof’s lifespan. By paying attention to these items, you can get the longest life from your roof and potentially save tens of thousands of dollars.

Trash and Debris

Debris comes in many forms and can cause a lot of problems on your roof. It may clog drains, gutters, downspouts and scuppers, leading to improper drainage. Debris can cause punctures and create leaks when stepped on. Trash can blow around on your roof and puncture the system or harm mechanical equipment.

Alamo Quarry Market Whole FoodsCheck your roof frequently for debris and trash. If you have a one story building, it is easy for people to throw trash onto the roof. Leaves will always be a concern if you are surrounded by trees. Clean up metal shards, screws, nails, glass, leaves and other trash laying on your roof. It should be free from any debris and trash not necessary to the proper functioning of your building.

Weather Damage

Your roof sits outside 24/7. It takes a beating from weather. Strong UV rays mixed with torrential downpours, wide temperature variations and even sometimes hail may weaken your roof, making it vulnerable to cracking and punctures.

Although you can’t control the climate, you can look for signs to see if your roof is showing any weather damage and make repairs immediately. Moisture can penetrate the insulation and deck, causing more rapid deterioration.


This is when something has made a hole or a tear in your roof that allows for water to leak into your building. Some of the causes of punctures are debris, heavy foot traffic or dropping equipment on your roof.

Ensure your roof is free from debris and monitor all foot traffic. Check your roof after anyone has access to ensure they didn’t cause any damage or leave debris behind.


Ponding occurs when water does not drain off the roof and forms a pool or a pond. If water sits long enough on your roof, vegetation may grow and the roots can damage your system. Also standing water can be very heavy. It may lead to a roof collapse or cause structural damage to the deck and other parts of the building.

Ensure your roof’s drainage system is free from debris and clogs. Make sure your mechanical equipment is working properly and keep an eye on older roofs that are close to the end of their life. They will sometimes form indentations and pond as they age.

roofing rhoneOther Trades and Contractors

When plumbing, electrical, mechanical and other equipment are improperly installed they can wreak havoc on your roof. Penetrations may be improperly flashed, units may sit directly on your roof without the correct padding underneath, and some contractors may even run wires and conduit through your gutters. Mechanical units that do not function correctly can leak and cause damage and ponding.

It’s important to hire quality contractors who install all equipment per code. It’s a good idea to keep a log of who has accessed your roof, inspect their work and see what they may have left behind. If you don’t want to get on the roof, at the very least ask your contractors to provide photos of their work.

These are a few things you need to be aware of and address immediately to get the longest life from your roof. You should inspect your roof frequently to look for these issues.


Christy Rhone is director of business development at Cram Roofing, a nationwide commercial roofing company based in San Antonio. For more information, visit

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