The Do’s and Don’ts of Roof Leaks







Anyone who has had to deal with a roof leak knows what a hassle they can be. At the very least, they can result in a disturbance for residents in the affected units or common areas, costs for interior remediation and roof repairs, and potential for health hazards like mold growth. In extreme cases, especially when leaks go undetected for prolonged periods of time, their presence can compromise the structural integrity of a building. Whether navigating a leak is a new experience for you or you’re a seasoned professional, the following tips will help ensure a more seamless and stress-free process.


Do: Complete a Thorough Investigation When a Leak Occurs


The process of the investigation starts from the interior, where the leak is presenting itself. Measurements are taken from the affected area to the nearest wall, to be referenced once the roof surface is accessed. Where possible, investigating behind the ceiling can be key to figuring out where the leak is coming from. If a drop ceiling is present, tiles can be lifted to inspect behind. In other situations, drywall can be cut, provided authorization is granted. If there are any spaces between the interior leak area and the roof surface, those areas are also inspected to identify if they are affected by water infiltration or if the leak is coming from those spaces. This may include an attic, crawlspace, mechanical room, or another unit.


On the roof surface, the interior measurements are used to trace out the area directly above the leak, as a starting point for the investigation. When investigating a protected roof system, like an inverted or green roof, multiple layers must be removed and set aside to expose and inspect the membrane. With any flat roof system, cut tests can be performed to determine the make-up of the roof system, identify is there is moisture beneath the membrane, and discover if water is potentially travelling. If there are no damages or defects in the area directly above the leak, cut tests also provide guidance when determining which direction to expand the investigation.


Investigating a leak takes away the guess work and helps identify a viable solution to resolve the occurrence. Through the process of an investigation, it is also possible to determine if the leak is coming from a source other than the roof, like plumbing or HVAC, if there is moisture and potential mold growth present in unseen areas like behind the ceiling, if water is travelling beneath the membrane, and in cases where attics are present, if there are deficiencies that may be contributing to the leak or to ice damming.


Don’t: Rely on Band-Aid Fixes


Especially in emergency situations, the goal is to stop any immediate water infiltration, by any means necessary. This can sometimes result in products and materials being used that are only meant to be in place temporarily, until further, more extensive repairs can be completed. It’s important to be able to discern the difference between temporary and permanent repairs so you aren’t left with a “band-aid” fix.


Two products that many roofing companies use in case of emergencies are tarps and roofing cement. The use of tarps to mitigate any immediate weather damages is generally understood to be a temporary solution, but often we encounter situations where roofing cement has been applied and presented as a long-term repair, which it is not. Roofing cement can stop water in its tracks, as it hardens and dries quickly, even in wet conditions, however, it does not offer lasting compatibility with roof membranes or shingles and can cause damage to internal piping if it enters the roof drains. If roofing cement must be used, we recommend following-up with the contractor who applied it to confirm what their next steps will be for permanently repairing the leak area.

Finally, be cautious about the use of caulking as a solution to a leak. Although caulking has its place throughout the roof and building envelope, it is not a miracle material that will seal and repair all roof defects. Caulking should not be used to repair damaged or deteriorated membrane or shingles, flashing that is too large, corroded metal, damaged drains, and more.


Do: Encourage Residents to Report Early Signs of Leaks


As a property manager, you can only report a leak that has been made known to you. In cases where damages have become extensive or where water is actively pouring into a unit, it makes sense that a resident would report it immediately. In other cases, residents may not realize a leak is occurring right away or may not think it’s a big deal if its presence is minor and non-intrusive.

Periodically checking in with residents and encouraging them to report early signs of a leak may help to prevent a minor situation from turning into a major catastrophe. Initial stages of a leak may include dripping sounds, soft spots, minor staining or blistering, drywall separation or a musty smell.

Don’t: Have a Superintendent or General Contractor Address a Roof Leak

Many of the superintendents we encounter are extremely familiar with the buildings they oversee and can be helpful resources when investigating a leak. They are often a wealth of knowledge and can provide valuable guidance, however, it is not recommended to have a superintendent or general contractor repair a roof leak. If the person addressing the leak is not well versed in the specific roof system and compatible roofing materials, this is where you tend to see band-aid fixes like caulking and roofing cement.

Where superintendents and other building staff can be extremely helpful is in the early detection and reporting of leaks. When completing walk throughs of the building, ensure areas below roof surfaces are being checked to determine if there are any active leaks or early signs such as staining or blistering. Keeping an eye out for openings where daylight can be seen in areas like mechanical rooms can also help to catch potential water entry points that can then be reported for repair.


Do: Hire a Reputable Roofing Contractor to Investigate and Repair Roof Leaks

To ensure leaks are being accurately diagnosed and repaired, always hire a qualified and reputable roofing contractor to investigate them. With an abundance of roofing contractors throughout Southern Ontario, you want to make sure the company you contact is experienced, trustworthy, and has a proven history of exceptional service.

Confirming the company you contract is well-versed in the roof system at your building can also make the difference between quality of repair. Some roofing companies specialize in one specific type of roofing, like sloped shingled roofs or single ply roof systems. If they are not familiar with other roof types, the likelihood of poor workmanship and incompatible materials is greater.

Never be afraid to ask qualifying questions, see previous work examples or seek out peer reviews before hiring a contractor.


Don’t: Hold Off on Resolving a Leak


If a known leak occurrence is not addressed, it will only become worse over time. No matter what time of year it is or what other projects are occurring at the building, it is important to report a leak right away to mitigate further damages. During the winter months is when we encounter the most hesitation related to handling leaks, but this time is also when we experience prolonged wet weather from snow and ice accumulation, subsequent melt, and rain during milder periods. Waiting until spring will only allow the leak to persist and cause more harm.

By hiring a reputable roofing contractor, you can ensure that safety, manufacturer guidelines, and best practices for winter are all being strictly followed when addressing a leak or any other roofing matters. At the very least, the leak can be investigated, and temporary repairs applied to prevent further water infiltration until permanent repairs can be completed.


Do: Complete Routine Inspections & Preventative Maintenance


There is no way to predict when and where leaks will happen but completing routine roof inspections and conducting preventative repair and maintenance recommendations provides the best chance to reduce their presence. The goal of preventative roof maintenance, like maintenance in any other area, is to extend the serviceable life of the system and ensure it will perform as well as possible for as long as possible. During regular inspections, areas that are showing signs of deterioration or that have been damaged by natural elements or man-made occurrences can be identified and addressed. If inspections are happening often enough, this can help to catch defects that may otherwise cause a leak.

Items to look for include, blocked or inadequate drainage, deteriorated sealants, membrane, or shingle damages, missing or damaged roof flashing, loose or detached metal, loss of UV protective granules, rust on metal surfaces and gas lines, heavy debris build-up, natural vegetation growth, displaced gravel on inverted roof systems, and more.


Don’t: Complete Interior Repairs Before the Confirmed Resolution of a Leak


The last thing you want is to spend money on interior repairs only for a leak to continue and negate those repairs. Before completing interior remediation, ensure the recommended roof repairs have been completed and have stopped the leak. When first reporting a leak, it is helpful to note if it has been active at any point and what type of weather occurrence was happening when it was. If the leak only occurred when it was pouring rain, when rain was wind-driven, in the days following rainfall, or when it was extremely cold, waiting for that particular weather to take place again is recommended before completing interior repairs.


Addressing Drain and Gutter Maintenance for System Longevity

In the world of roofing, it’s important to dispel a common misconception: flat roofs aren’t entirely flat. Instead, they’re designed with a slight slope, often referred to as a “low-slope” structure. This subtle incline serves a critical purpose – it ensures effective water drainage. This design feature may seem counterintuitive, but it’s what prevents water from accumulating on the roof’s surface, which could lead to significant issues.


Maintaining Proper Drainage


The low slope on flat roofs is a deliberate and essential component of their design. It directs rainwater, melted snow, and other forms of precipitation towards strategically positioned drains or scuppers. By doing so, it diverts water away from the roof’s surface. Without this slope, water pooling could become a persistent problem, posing a risk to the structural integrity of both the roof and the building it covers.


To maintain the proper functioning of a flat roof, it’s crucial to pay attention to its drainage system. Over time, debris, leaves, dirt, and various other materials can accumulate in the drains or scuppers, obstructing the flow of water and leading to potential water buildup. Regular maintenance, including drain cleaning, is essential to ensure the drainage system operates as intended.


The Significance of Roof Seams

Water pooling on a roof drain for an extended period of time can be a cause for concern, particularly if the roofing system’s seams are not in optimal condition. The integrity of a roof’s seams plays a pivotal role in preventing water from infiltrating the building. Let’s delve into this issue:


When water accumulates on a roof’s drainage system due to clogs, blockages, or poor drainage design, it can linger for an extended duration. This prolonged exposure to moisture can place undue stress on the roofing system, making the integrity of the seams a critical factor in preventing potential leaks.


Roof seams are the joints where two sections of roofing material meet, such as where two rolls of roofing membrane come together or where a roofing material connects with flashing or other components, such as drains. These seams are typically sealed to create a watertight barrier, ensuring that water is channeled towards the drains and away from the roof’s surface.


Regular inspections are vital for the maintenance of these seams. They should be carefully examined and, if necessary, resealed. The expansion and contraction of the roof membrane caused by weather changes, shifts in the building’s structure over time, and prolonged exposure to standing water can compromise the seals and create vulnerabilities. If the seams are not in excellent condition, they may start to deteriorate, crack, or weaken, allowing water to infiltrate the roofing system and ultimately make its way into the building.


Consequences of Drain Blockages


In the event of drain blockages or failures, the consequences can be significant. Water accumulation on the roof can seep into the roof membrane at any vulnerable points, resulting in damage that may manifest as hidden leaks within the building’s interior. Furthermore, the added weight of pooled water can strain the roof’s structural elements, potentially causing weakening of the membrane or even structural damage. Excess moisture within the roofing system can create a conducive environment for mold and mildew growth, leading to health concerns and costly remediation efforts. Leaks making their way into the building’s interior can damage ceilings, walls, insulation, and electrical systems, requiring extensive repairs.


From a financial perspective, repairing a damaged flat roof and addressing interior damage can be a substantial expense. In severe cases, it might necessitate a complete roof replacement, which can be a significant financial burden. Beyond the immediate financial implications, such issues can disrupt operations and affect the comfort and safety of building occupants. Proactive maintenance and repairs are recommended as they can address points of potential water ingress before a leak can occur.

Gutters: A Vital Component
Drains often become leak points due to their location at the lowest part of the roof system. While this is the intended design, regular inspections are necessary because deterioration is inevitable with exposure to the elements. Like flat roof drains, gutters are responsible for redirecting rainwater away from buildings, protecting them from water damage.


Debris, including leaves, twigs, and dirt, tends to accumulate within gutters over time, particularly during seasons marked by heavy foliage and rainfall. When this debris is left unattended, it becomes burdensome and can lead to several issues, such as gutter sagging, clogs and blockages, fastener damage, and gutter separation.


The weight of waterlogged debris can cause gutters to sag, impairing their ability to efficiently channel rainwater. Additionally, excessive debris can obstruct the flow of water, resulting in overflow and the potential for exterior damage. Furthermore, the extra weight from debris can strain gutter fasteners, possibly causing them to loosen or detach. In severe cases, the weight of debris can cause gutter sections to separate or detach, creating gaps that render the system ineffective.


The Value of Routine Inspections


To avert these issues, regular gutter cleaning and maintenance are essential. This process involves clearing debris and reinforcing the system’s efficiency through resealing where necessary. Neglecting this maintenance can lead to permanent damage, impacting both the gutter’s functionality and the exterior of the building it serves.


Regardless of the specific characteristics of a building’s gutter or drainage system, it’s crucial to emphasize the importance of regular inspections. Investing in routine maintenance and inspections proves to be a cost-effective strategy when compared to the substantial resources required for remediation once gutter or drainage systems start to falter. Furthermore, addressing repairs during fair weather conditions presents a distinct scheduling advantage, reducing the stress associated with making decisions when confronted with a critical leak situation.


UV Ray Exposure to Roof Membrane: Protecting Your Investment

Our roofs are the very first line of defense against the natural elements, shielding us from rain, wind, hail, and snow. However, many people may not realize that even the sun, and the UV radiation it emits, can wreak havoc on their roofs. UV radiation can cause significant damage to various roofing materials, leading to costly repairs or premature replacements. In this article, we will explore the impact of UV rays on different roofing materials and how to prevent and fix issues caused by sun exposure.


UV radiation can harm asphalt shingles by getting right down to the chemical compounds and altering them. The oxygen mixes with the hydrocarbons, which causes the coating of the shingles to break down. As the material breaks down, the oily substance covering the shingles evaporates, which leaves the shingles unprotected. They then become dry and start cracking. Heat can also play a part, as it encourages expansion, followed by contraction when it cools at night, which causes even more cracking. This is called thermal shock, and as it continues throughout the years, the very structure of the roof can degrade.


Granule loss in a roof membrane can occur due to various factors, and it can lead to significant issues if left unaddressed. Most commonly seen in asphalt shingle roofs, granules are the small, coarse, and colored particles that provide protection and weather resistance to the roofing material. Over time, exposure to the elements, weathering, foot traffic, and natural aging can cause these granules to become dislodged and accumulate in gutters and downspouts, or simply wear away.


Granule loss is a concern because these granules play a vital role in protecting the underlying roofing material from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays and extreme weather conditions. Without the granules, the roof’s surface becomes vulnerable to rapid deterioration, increased UV exposure, and accelerated aging, leading to potential leaks, cracks, and reduced overall lifespan of the roof.

When granule loss is noticed on a roof, it is crucial to act promptly. Roof renewal or restoration is a viable solution to address this issue. This process involves hiring a qualified roofing professional to apply a protective coating and new granule layer to the affected roof surface.


UV ray exposure can also cause blistering. Blisters form when there are pockets of air or moisture trapped between layers of the roof’s membrane or between the membrane and the roof deck. As the sun heats the roof, those pockets expand and stretch the membrane. In severe cases, the membrane will crack when the pressure becomes too great. Even if the roof membrane doesn’t crack, blisters are usually a cyclical problem. That is, once they form, the membrane stretches permanently, which allows for even more air or moisture to infiltrate the membrane layers. This causes even more expansion. Each time the sun heats your roof, there is the potential for the blisters to grow a little larger.


Blistering can still occur on a well-installed roof system. If blisters do not indicate severe damage, it is generally advised to leave them undisturbed. However, it is crucial to routinely inspect observed blisters, as there are situations where repairing them becomes necessary to prevent potential complications like bursting.


To repair a blister, technicians cut away the membrane until they reach an area where the membrane still adheres to the roof tightly. They then apply new compatible membrane materials over the blistered area, making sure the new membrane extends at least six inches around the edges of the blister to ensure that your patch remains leak-proof despite the expansion and contraction caused by temperature shifts. Alternatively, on a bitumen roof, the technician may be able to cut an “X” into the blister and then peel back the loose membrane layers, fill the void underneath the membrane with bitumen and pressing the membrane back into place.


Regardless of the repair method chosen, it is crucial to have a qualified roofing technician handle the blister repair work. The repair process involves cutting into the roof membrane, which can be invasive. If this is not done correctly, it may compromise the integrity of the roof system at those areas, leading to potential openings for water to seep in and causing even more problems than it solves. Even though a blister on the roof might cause concern, it’s crucial to wait for a qualified professional following industry and manufacture standards to handle the repair, ensuring the problem is addressed properly and effectively.


Alligatoring is a sign that your roof is aging. The sun’s UV rays dry and damage the roof’s surface, and after three to five years, the coating may develop small cracks. If left untended, the problem will get worse. Ice, sunlight, and the heating and cooling shifts between day and night will all cause new cracks to appear while widening the existing cracks. Repairs for alligatoring on the roof membrane can vary depending on the severity of damages.


Roof sealants are essential to the overall lifespan of a roof. These coatings provide extra protection against damaging elements such as snow, ice, or rain. However, powerful UV radiation can compromise the integrity of your roof sealants over time. Whether it be caulking or sealant at penetrations, heat energy from the sun breaks down the chemicals in seam sealants and prevents them from doing their job effectively. Annual renewal or review of these sealants is important to ensure that no openings have formed allowing for potential water ingress.


Darker rooftops are vulnerable to a type of bleaching. This bleaching effect can affect the color of the material, either fading it out or turning it completely white. While bleaching is a cosmetic problem and not a structural problem, it can leave your roof looking unsightly. Wood shake roofing and architectural shingles are the most vulnerable to bleaching however, this occurs at varying levels on all roof systems.


Metal roofing suffers in extreme heat. Concentrated UV rays create a drastic change in the metal’s temperature – an effect known as thermal shock. This type of sun damage causes the metal to destabilize, thinning out the metal and resulting in cracks. These cracks create the perfect entryway for moisture, which can lead to moss growth, a roof leak, or the support underneath the metal roof to rot.


Amidst our focus on protecting our buildings from rain, wind, and snow, we often overlook the silent culprit that can wreak havoc on our roofs – the sun’s UV rays during hot weather. UV radiation causes substantial damage to various roofing materials, leading to issues such as granule loss, alligatoring, blistering, and bleaching. To prevent costly repairs and premature replacements, it is crucial to take proactive measures, such as applying new coatings, renewing sealants, and conducting regular roof maintenance. By safeguarding our roofs from the damaging effects of UV rays, we can ensure their longevity and optimal performance, ultimately protecting our homes and buildings from the elements and preserving their value for years to come.

Protecting Your Roof: Understanding the Value of Bird Deterrents




Protecting Your Roof: Understanding the Value of Bird Deterrents



Bird deterrent measures are commonly employed to protect roofs from the potential damage caused by birds. Roofs, with their accessible nooks and crannies, often serve as attractive sites for birds to build their nests. This could lead to issues like blocked gutters, damaged shingles, and corrosion from droppings. To address this problem, various bird deterrent methods can be utilized. These include installing bird spikes, which create an uncomfortable landing surface, or using bird netting to physically block access to vulnerable areas. Additionally, visual deterrents like reflective devices or predator decoys can be effective in deterring birds. By implementing these bird deterrent strategies, property owners can safeguard their roofs from bird-related problems, preserving the structural integrity and cleanliness of their buildings.


The Negative Effects of Birds on Roof Systems

In addition to physical damage, birds nesting on or near roofs can create noise and disturbance, affecting the peace and tranquility of occupants. Bird deterrents can help address this issue by deterring birds from nesting in the first place, minimizing the disruptive presence and allowing residents to enjoy a more peaceful environment.

It is important to note that while bird deterrents significantly reduce nesting activities, determined birds may still attempt to nest despite the obstacles. Factors like bird species, population density, and availability of alternative nesting sites can influence their persistence. Consequently, regular monitoring and maintenance of bird deterrent systems are essential to ensure their continued effectiveness.

Bird droppings contain corrosive elements that can deteriorate roofing materials over time. The acidity in these droppings can eat away at shingles, tiles, membrane, and other roofing components, compromising their integrity and aesthetic appeal. By implementing bird deterrent measures, the presence of bird droppings on roofs can be reduced or eliminated which improves overall cleanliness and prevents the corrosive effects. On a flat exposed roof membrane or shingles, bird dropping can cause granule deterioration at expedited rates creating weak points in the roof system which are then more susceptible to water ingress.


The Role of Different Bird Deterrent Methods

Birds are naturally attracted to the sheltered and elevated spaces that roofs provide, making them ideal nesting sites. As they build their nests, they often use twigs, leaves, and debris, which can accumulate in gutters and drains, leading to blockages and water backup. Birds can also cause damage by pecking and scratching at the roof’s surface. This behavior can lead to holes, cracks, and weakened areas, making it easier for water to penetrate and cause leaks. By installing bird deterrents, such as spikes and netting, birds are discouraged from nesting on roofs, thereby minimizing the risk of blockages and damages. Deterrents should be strategically installed at locations where bird activity has been observed or preventatively at covered areas where birds or pests are likely to occupy. Bird deterrents, while effective in reducing the likelihood of nesting, do not provide an absolute prevention. Instead, they create difficulties for birds and encourage them to seek alternative nesting locations. It is important to understand that bird deterrents function by introducing physical or visual obstacles that make potential nesting areas less attractive and more challenging for birds.

Bird Spikes 

Bird spikes are designed to create an uncomfortable and unstable landing surface, discouraging birds from perching or nesting on rooftops, ledges, or other vulnerable areas. The presence of spikes poses difficulties for birds to find stable footing, making those areas less desirable for nesting.


Bird Netting

Bird netting forms a physical barrier that denies birds access to specific locations. By covering openings or vulnerable areas with netting, birds are unable to build nests, thus encouraging them to seek alternative nesting sites.


Visual Deterrents

Visual deterrents, such as reflective devices or predator decoys, exploit birds’ natural instincts and create the perception of danger. These visual stimuli introduce uncertainty and risk, discouraging birds from choosing a particular area for nesting. By employing a combination of these visual deterrents, the overall attractiveness of the nesting site is reduced.


Sonic Deterrents

Our team receives many inquiries about sonic bird deterrents, which emit sound or ultrasonic frequencies to repel birds. When it comes to sonic bird deterrents, we caution that they may not be effective in all contexts. The sonic mechanisms which make an environment unpleasant for birds can also impact pets in the area, as certain frequencies humans do not hear can affect birds and pets alike. Depending on the bird occupant, different sonic levels may be required before you see effects of the sonic deterrent. As the sound level of these devices is adjusted and increased to deter birds, there is a chance that humans in the vicinity may start to hear the sounds as well, leading to annoyance or inconvenience. Considering the potential adverse effects on pets and human occupants, it is important to explore alternative bird deterrent methods when the install location is near residential units. Sonic bird deterrents can be extremely effective in certain contexts where the above noted issues are not present, such as commercial or industrial buildings where occupants are not within proximity of the install location.


The Importance of Non-Interference with Bird Nests During Nesting Season

During nesting season, once birds have already occupied a nest on your roof, it is important to avoid disturbing them. Disturbing nesting birds can cause stress, disrupt their reproductive cycle, and potentially harm the birds or their offspring. It is essential to respect the laws and regulations that protect nesting birds as many countries have legal protections in place to safeguard their well-being. The area where the nest is located should be avoided while occupied to allow the birds to complete their nesting cycle without unnecessary interference. It is crucial to remember that disturbing nesting birds can lead to nest abandonment, leaving the eggs or chicks vulnerable and reducing the overall success of the bird population.


Importance of Using a Certified Roofing Contractor

Using a certified and safe roofing contractor to complete the installation of bird deterrents is of paramount importance. The installation process requires expertise in both roofing and bird control techniques to ensure the effectiveness of the deterrent system and safety during installation. A certified roofing contractor prioritizes safety, has working at heights certification, completes a proper fall protection plan, and ensures proper ladder safety and/or equipment staging and tie off where required. This not only protects the contractor and their team but protects the property and its occupants from accidents or injuries as well as liability. By engaging a certified roofing contractor, property owners can have confidence that the bird deterrents will be installed correctly, without compromising the roof’s integrity.



Deterrents not only prevent nesting and blockages but also safeguard roofing materials from pecking, scratching, and corrosive droppings. By investing in bird spikes, netting, or visual repellents, clients can preserve the integrity of their roofs, extend the roof lifespan, and reduce costly repairs. Every situation is unique, and the pros and cons of each deterrent method should be carefully considered before implementation. There is no ‘sure thing’ in bird deterrent installation and effectiveness can depend upon the pervasiveness of the bird species, population, or availability of alternative nesting sites. In some cases, multiple methods must be used in conjunction to create an adequate solution for complex or pervasive nesting issues.