Leak Inspection Process for Commercial Roofs

Most commercial roof leaks can be found with a good eye, but what happens when a roof leak is hidden? Our expert commercial roof inspectors walk through a complete step-by-step process to detect and report those hidden, difficult roof leaks immediately and thoroughly. 

The Inspection and Recording Process

When we receive a report of a roof leak detection, our team immediately follows specific steps to ensure we thoroughly document the issue. This inspection and recording process can take 45 minutes or two days, depending on the extent of the roof leak repair. We first listen and take detailed notes about the leaking roof from our clients: Where is the roof leak located? When did it begin leaking? How much water leakage or damage is there? We record all information and add photographs to our Facility Control Systems software.

As soon as we can, we then have a Register Roofing team member come on-site to inspect the leaking roof. We take before, during, and after photos of the damage and corrected issues and communicate a quote to our client as soon as the issue is diagnosed. Each of our experts drives a van stocked with hundreds of products, and we can sometimes repair the leaking roof immediately within the hour.

When a Roof Leak Is Concealed, Then What?

When we run into a more difficult roof repair, our experienced Register Roofing expert inspectors are able to detect even the most obscure leaks through our meticulous and detailed step-by-step process.

Step 1: Listen carefully to the roof leak issue from our clients.

Just like mechanics have a troubleshooting process for vehicle issues, we have a troubleshooting process for roof leak repairs. When we receive the report of a leak either by phone call or email from a client, we first assess it with our ears without any tools. Listening to our clients is an imperative first action to recognize the source of the problem, particularly a difficult one. Because our clients are in their own buildings daily, they often know information about the leaking roof better than we do. We record methodical notes and comprehensive details. We listen to and ask questions about when the leaks happen, where they seem to be occurring, how much water is leaking, the initial extent of damage, and if the roof leak happens after certain weather, over a certain area, or at a certain time of day. By listening carefully and taking thorough notes regarding the location and extent of the leaky roof in our FCS roofing program, we can often determine where the tricky leak is stemming from simply through our clients’ detailed reports. Partnering with and valuing our clients’ input in this process is essential to how Register Roofing conducts our repair process.

Step 2: Check for obvious visible damage. 

If we still need more information after a report from our clients, we come onsite to look over the roof through a thorough visible sweep of the area. Over half of the leaks we inspect and correct have obvious visible damage and are easy to find. These can often be a hole or clear area of damage. 

Every Register Roofing team member has a van equipped with hundreds of materials, and we can send photos to the office to assess the damage with other team members. We always take before, during, and after photos of any roof leak damage and of the corrected issue and can share these photos through the FCS software. As soon as we give our clients a quote and have them sign an NTE (Not to Exceed), we can begin working, and leaks can sometimes be fixed in as little as 45 minutes. 

On many occasions, we will completely inspect other parts of the building, not just the roofing materials. The leak can often stem from a different area than the roof, such as a leaking AC unit or plumbing line. 

Step 3: Probe areas that seem suspect

After we’ve checked for evident visual damage, next, we’ll examine locations that appear questionable. We will systematically check all variables on the roof in this step and probe and push on areas that seem suspect. Our team of experts always has a probe on hand – a screwdriver with a hook on the end and a sharp point. We use these probes to check for seams or lapses in the membrane of the roof. For example, often, a small area of roofing sealant has broken loose.

Over time, roofs expand and contract in warmer and colder temperatures. This expanding and contracting may have put a significant amount of strain on the roof, causing it to fail. Thankfully, modern roof solutions have been developed to address these issues, and a roof can handle this strain. However, over time, if these issues are not addressed, these changes can lead to roof leaks and the need for costly repairs. Thus, our team conducts thorough inspections in order to catch these roofing system issues early on.

Step 4: Conduct a roof water test

If the leak is widespread and the cause is still unclear after inspecting for visible damage and examining all sealants with a probe, we sound the “roof leak detection” alarm as soon as possible. This step is often time-intensive and expensive because it requires a lot of water to run a water test. We try to assess and locate the roof leak problem before taking these more drastic measures. When a roofing contractor has attempted to address a recurrent leak after multiple efforts without finding success, a “water test” may be the next stage in the process of identifying a viable solution. It’s considerably preferable to perform an early all-hands-on-deck intervention than to act too late and have increased damage to a roof or building due to an inadequate response. 

Water tests are performed to test the roof using controlled water sources in order to pinpoint the leak source’s location. In a water test, we use a hose to find moisture in the roofing system. Finding a good water supply on the building and simply extending hoses from the water source to the section of the roof being tested is the fundamental technique of doing a water test. First, we run water down the drains to see if any leaks stem from there. If necessary, we will cover any areas’ drains to prevent water from draining off the roof during the test. 

Following that, we begin by testing the field (flat) section of the roof. When performing a water test, we always start from the low point of the roof and work our way up. We would usually have a roofing contractor technician on the roof doing the water test and running the water, as well as a technician on the inside of the building searching for a leak. We use a two-way radio to communicate between technicians as we travel the roof and search thoroughly for leaks. Keeping the water on the roof for 30 minutes to an hour is frequently necessary to determine if the roof is leaking. The major goal of this initial stage is to determine whether or not the roof system is the cause of the leak. This method solves about 80% of commercial roofing leaks. All of our roof technicians have a moisture meter and use this to assess the leak as we run the water test.

The contractor will bring the water up to the curbs or penetration flashings if the roof has been water-tested and never leaks. If none of these spots leak, the contractor will move on to a possible HVAC unit or a wall section. Water testing can uncover leaks everywhere, including the roof, HVAC systems, walls, penetrations, and other surfaces. Register Roofing has discovered that many times when a water test is performed, the leak source is shown to be something other than the roof system. Depending on the scope of roof leak penetration or how concealed the leak is, this water test process can take as little as 20 minutes to as much as 10 hours.

Step 5:  Administer an infrared roof inspection survey

A team of roofing contractors can administer an infrared roof inspection survey as the last resort. Infrared Moisture Surveys are used to locate and quantify moisture in areas of wet insulation and moisture in an existing roof system. A commercial roofing contractor or roof inspector uses an infrared meter gun to scan for roof surface temperatures. These scans allow us to see whether sections of the insulation are saturated without having to remove the roof’s top layer. 

Water can enter the roofing system through a breach in the waterproof membrane and saturate the insulation and underlying layers. Wet portions take longer to cool off with outside air than dry parts on the roof. As a result, the moist regions retain heat for longer at the end of the day. 

Conducting an infrared roof inspection survey is a thorough method for determining whether portions of the roof hold moisture, which might be causing a current leak or lead to future issues. Infrared thermography is a scientific approach for assessing the state of a roof and detecting difficult-to-find roof moisture issue areas. Our expert infrared thermography roof inspections give owners and property managers in-depth, unbiased data necessary to detect leaks to repair and preserve their expensive roof systems quickly.

How can I prevent future leaks?

Once a month, take a walk over your commercial roof to check for obvious damage or debris. Tree limbs should be pruned to keep them from touching the roof.

As a rule of thumb, professional maintenance and repair should be done at least twice a year, according to the National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA). In particular, Register Roofing recommends having a roofing contractor conduct inspections before and after harsh weather seasons, such as North Florida hurricane season. These inspections aim to clear the roof system of natural debris, clear all gutters and waterways, and examine susceptible areas in the roof system to verify that there is no degradation that might lead to future leaks. In addition to twice-yearly maintenance, it’s critical to have a contractor evaluate and repair any damage caused by severe weather, such as high winds or severe storms. The purpose of these checks is to remove any debris, such as metal, from HVAC equipment or other sources. Avoid future leakage by having a skilled roofing contractor examine and maintain your roof on a regular basis.

Find and repair your leak today.

What should you do if you currently have a leaking roof? Whether or not you know where the leak is entering your commercial building, contact Register Roofing to speak to a roofing professional who can assist you in discovering the particular source of the leak and performing quick and complete repairs.


Experience the Register
Roofing difference

Register Roofing

Request An Estimate