Rooftop Equipment: 3 Things That Can Damage Commercial Roofing

Commercial roofing consists of heavy duty material that is durable, but only to an extent. The material is designed to prevent water leakage through the roof to protect the interior of the building from getting damaged by weather elements. However, the material can be damaged, which could result in water leaks into the building. What types of things can cause damage to such a durable material? Here are 3.

Improper installation of HVAC & other equipment

HVAC units and other pieces of equipment that get installed on commercial roofs, such as satellite dishes, should be installed prior to installing new roofing. However, that generally only happens during the initial construction phase. For installation of new equipment on old commercial roofing, it's important for the technicians to place protective sheets down as barriers for the movement of the equipment and so workers can walk on the roof without damaging the roofing material.

Equipment that needs to be attached to the roofing should be done with proper roof penetration. This typically involves the placement of sealant and flashing around the attachments. To do this correctly so that water cannot follow along the path of the attachment, a commercial roofing company should be hired any time new equipment is installed on a commercial roof.

In some cases, depending on the size and weight of the equipment, spacers need to be installed to prevent damage to the equipment and the roofing material, especially if water would be able to get underneath the equipment.

Criminal conduct to steal copper tubing from HVAC units

Copper is a hot commodity on the black market. In fact, criminals steal copper tubing from HVAC units and sell the valuable metal to scrap metal recycling centers. Obviously, criminals that are daring enough to get onto the roof of a commercial property are not going to be careful enough to not damage the roofing material while they carry out their crimes.

Copper tubing that's been taken out of an HVAC unit will likely be thrown directly on the roof. This could cause tears and holes in the roofing material. To deter this type of criminal activity, it's a good idea to surround HVAC units with security fencing such as a chain link fence.

Chain link fencing is ideal because it allows air to circulate around the HVAC system. However, the fencing contractor will need to work alongside a commercial roofing contractor to ensure the installation of the fencing does not cause water leaks through the roof.

Wind forces on rooftop equipment  

Equipment located on a commercial roof is susceptible to winds because there is very little to block it. When you consider that sometimes heavy wind is strong enough to bring down mature trees, you can understand how important it is for rooftop equipment to be secured.

Imagine pulling up a thick weed in your yard. You pull on the weed in different directions to get the soil to loosen up around the base and roots. This sideways force pushes the soil out of the way. The same thing can happen to the attachments for rooftop equipment when wind is forceful and pushing against the equipment. Satellite dishes are highly susceptible to this type of wind force.

When the attachments and the surrounding sealant and flashing are displaced, water can get down through the roofing materials and into the building, just like water could run down the stem of the weed and reach into the ground. Anytime rooftop equipment is installed on a roof, a roofing contractor should be hired to prepare the roofing for the installation and to seal any penetrations and other damage that may have occurred.