A commercial roof should be built to last for decades. The nature of operations in most commercial buildings does not allow for regular roof repairs and replacements. You have to interrupt important business to undertake such works, and this can send potential renters away. Thus, as you design the structure and choose materials, it's paramount to consider risks that could affect the performance and durability of the roof. With this in mind, here are three crucial questions to ask at the design stage.
Will You Install HVAC Equipment on the Roof?
Unlike residential roofs, commercial roofs are mostly used to house HVAC outdoor units and cooling towers. The equipment can affect the performance of the roof, especially if it compromises the structural integrity. Therefore, decide whether you will need to install any of the equipment on the roof in the future. If so, you should choose a design and materials that will accommodate the equipment. These include PVC, metal, TPO, and modified bitumen. The thickness and sturdiness of the material should also match the applications to ensure longevity.
With There Be Additional Penetrations Post-Installation?
Additional penetrations refer to any installations that may involve punching holes or making alterations to the roof after installation. These include skylights, solar panels, chimneys, exhaust fans, and air vents. Penetrations that are done without taking the roofing material and underlying substrate into consideration can prove catastrophic. Thus, factor them into the design of the roof. If possible, choose a roofing material that can handle penetrations without suffering leaks and structural damage.
How Will You Prevent Pooling (on a Flat Roof)?
Flat roofs are common in commercial buildings as they make it easy to install additional equipment without dealing with a sloped structure. What's more, they are also easy to access, repair, and maintain. However, they come with one main challenge — pooling. Rainwater and HVAC condensate are among the few sources of pooling and roof leaks in commercial roofs. Thus, as you design it, decide how you will prevent this problem. Some ideas include the following:
- Proper and strategic installation of gutters and other roof drains
- Design the roof to eliminate low spots that don't lead towards the drainage system
- Install roof crickets around areas notorious for pooling such as chimneys and vents
You also need to prepare a roofing maintenance schedule that will ensure any ponding issues are addressed before they cause leaks.
A commercial roof is an expensive structure that should last for decades without requiring replacement. However, failure to consider the above issues can lead to roof failure and costly repairs. Talk to a commercial roofing professional who can help you design a functional and durable roof for your building.