The Roofer’s Starry Night – A Tale of a Neglected Roof Leak

By show of hands, who can tell what’s wrong with the metal decking on this roof in the picture below? I’ll go ahead and assume everyone reading this has their hand in the air. I also apologize if your co-workers are now wondering why you’re sitting there with your hand raised at your desk.

Roof Leak Causing Roof Deck Damage

What you see here is a severe case of roof leaks left unattended and subsequent damage to the structural steel deck. Initially, the building owner had ignored the small puddles that formed on the floor because the industrial setting allowed for a small tolerance for water infiltration. That tolerance grew as the puddle grew and then nobody wanted to deal with the assumed repair bill so the puddle grew even more.

The Outcome of Ignoring Roof Leaks

Fast forward a few years and now the time has come to replace the roof system. A brief under-deck inspection showed areas of concern from the ground and a complete tear-off was recommended to see just how much damage had been done.

As you can see, the damage was wide-spread. What may have started off as a leak costing a couple hundred dollars to repair eventually turned into the need for tens of thousands of dollars in replacement costs…just in steel deck replacement. In this instance, replacement is the only option since there isn’t enough surface area to nest.

Nesting new decking is simply overlaying a new piece of steel over the existing steel and fastening them together. The level of deterioration shown in this photo is so extensive that you simply can’t secure the new steel.

Deteriorated roof deck
Deteriorated roof deck

Replacing the steel deck involves cutting the deteriorated areas and completely removing them. New steel deck is then put back in place and secured to the building’s framework (purlins). Replacing does cost more than nesting.

Safety Concerns

More importantly, nobody ever stopped to think about the safety concerns created by this. What happens if debris starts falling through these openings? What happens if someone is walking on the roof in this area? There weren’t any signs on the roof saying, “Caution! This area has been leaking for years and may not be safe to walk on.” A minor injury would have been the absolute best case scenario here.

This is by no means just an industrial issue either. I’ve seen numerous office settings where umbrella leak diverters or other homemade contraptions were the norm. Don’t get me wrong, when Mother Nature is coming into your building these are perfectly acceptable SHORT-TERM fixes. Diverting the water to the nearest trash can doesn’t count as fixing the leak.

Ongoing Roof Leak
Deteriorated roof deck

The moral of this story is don’t ignore your roof leak issues! What appears to be a minor annoyance at the time can result in serious catastrophic loss and high replacement costs. Call a professional roofer and have the necessary repairs performed. A few hundred dollars now can help save a lot more down the road.

Is your roof leaking?

Don’t put off having roof leaks repaired, the consequences can lead to expensive deck replacements! Contact us today!

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