Though you may not think much about it on a daily basis, your commercial roofing system and its flashings are essential for the longevity, safety, and success of your business. When you work with a reputable commercial roofing company, you can rest assured that these essential structures will be well-built and maintained. Otherwise, damaged or improperly installed flashings could lead to water leakage through the ceiling and walls. Not only are water stains unsightly, but long-term water exposure also poses safety and health threats, introducing mold and pests or compromising the structural integrity of the building. Because roof flashing plays such a significant role in preventing water leakage, it’s a wise idea to read up on it and understand it from every angle.
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What is Roof Flashing?
One of the most crucial components of a commercial roofing system is the flashing. Without it, water could easily seep in through the joints, seams, and penetrations, causing further and much more severe forms of internal damage. There are a dozen kinds of flashings that come in different shapes in sizes depending on their specific use. For example, bargeboards seal off the edges of a sloped roof; vent flashings ensure the vents are watertight, and valley flashings are used along the seam where two slopes meet. These parts are usually made of metal, such as zinc, copper, aluminum, steel, or tin, but they may also consist of rubber or roofing felt.
How Does It Work?
Flashing works in a few different ways. Primarily, it provides a physical barrier against water, insects, wind, and debris, preventing unwanted moisture and dirt from permeating the underlayment and building interior. Because it is installed to spread across the underside of the topmost roofing layer and siding materials, it will even resist running rainwater driven by high winds. Secondly, flashing is far more effective than other sealants. Made from tough metal or synthetic materials, it is highly resistant to temperature fluctuations, regular wear and tear, and slight movement. Throughout the years and temperature-changing seasons, buildings tend to shift and settle. Flashing is designed to accommodate these micro-movements without cracking, splitting, or leaving the roof vulnerable to water damage.
Types of Damage to Look Out For
If you start to notice signs of water leakage in your building, a roofing inspection is long overdue. Make sure to call in your professional roofing contractor for a full-scale maintenance checkup to pinpoint the area of damage. In the meantime, you can also perform a DIY inspection, which should include double-checking the flashings.
Roof flashings can acquire damage in a number of ways. The roofing membrane may drastically shrink over a long time, causing the flashing parts to stretch and eventually break under the pressure. One of the most common sources of damage, inclement weather exposes flashings to prolonged water exposure and causes physical damage from debris and tree branches. Flashings may also cease functioning correctly if improperly installed during construction, tampered with inappropriately during repairs, or accidentally damaged by another type of contractor needing access to the roof. No matter how well-built a roof may be, age will always take its toll. If your roof is a few decades old, the flashings may have rusted and will need to be replaced.
Roof Flashings Are A Matter of Safety
No matter how new or expensive your commercial roofing system may be, malfunctioning flashing allows water to infiltrate your building, leading to pest infestations, mold growth, reduced insulation, and even structural collapse. The moment you start to see leaks and water stains on your walls and ceilings, you’ll know your assets, products, employees, and customers could be at risk. As long as you understand how roof flashing works and how to recognize when it fails, you’ll be able to make informed decisions to ensure the safety of your business from the elements.