Roof Leak: A Survival Guide By Zak Keyes

Posted Feb 11th, 2020

Your drive to work is terrible! The rain is blowing sideways and the wipers on the dash can barely keep the window clear. When you arrive at the office, you’re soaked sprinting from the car. Finally,  you’ve reached the overhang of the front entrance. Refuge at last! However when you enter the building, it is clear that little refuge has been found. A drip strikes the back of your neck and rolls down your shoulders. THE ROOF IS LEAKING!  

Understandably, when a roof leak is discovered many people view this as an existential event to their building envelope and a sense of panic ensues. In reality, the vast majority of roof leaks hardly herold mass destruction to the buildings they effect. Roof leaks on commercial & industrial buildings are common, so it is best to be prepared for these events. Below is a survival guide for when the rain engages your building indoors:  

● First Response: Mitigate damage to the building and contents. If leaks are occuring over a desk or work area with papers, a computer, etc…, ideally these items will be removed to safety. If this is not possible, a tarp or plastic sheathing can be placed over the work area.  

● The Tools of Engagement: Next the water must be contained. It is helpful to keep 3-4 buckets on hand in the event of a leak. Buckets should be placed underneath the leak to capture water. If buckets are not available, garbage bins and pails can be utilized in the same way. (It is suggested you remove the garbage first; no one wants to brew that tea).  

● Call in the Heavies: Once the leak has been contained it is time to call for help. Contact an experienced Commercial Roofing contractor. If you do not have a relationship with a commercial roofing contractor already, it is good practice to have yearly maintenance visits conducted by a contractor to clear the roof of debris (leaves, branches, garbage) and preemptively identify up and coming roof leaks. With rapport already established, it is good to know you can count on such a contractor in situations like a roof leak.  

● The cavalry has arrived: Roofing contractors may not be able to respond immediately, however you have already mitigated the damage to the inside of the building. When the Contractor arrives, they should be able to carry out temporary repairs, even during rain, and will then advise you on what needs to be done as a permanent fix and provide a quotation. 

● Ceasefire: Once the Roofing Contractor has stopped the leak, the clean-up can begin. Simple towels and tissues may get the brunt of any moisture, however it is a good idea to operate a dehumidifier until all building components are completely dry. If the leak was only small, a consumer grade dehumidifier may be all that’s required. However, for significant leaks, it is wise to contact a Disaster Remediation service. They often rent out commercial grade dehumidifiers and can also assess the interior damage and advise on further remediation work that may be required. 

● Sign the Treaty: If it was raining during the time of roof repair, then the repair is likely only temporary. Don’t let this slide! Make sure the contractor provides a quote for a permanent solution; you may need a new roof, or simply just a repair. You might want other opinions from contractors on this to compare notes and pricing. Once your due diligence is complete, sign a contract with a commercial roofing contractor and get your roof fixed! Don’t neglect your roof and end up engaged in another fight!   


● Refrain from inspecting the roof yourself or sending staff on the roof. Roofs are dangerous places and workers on roofs require Working at Heights training and safety equipment. Any harm to your staff in this environment poses significant liability. 

● Be cautious of water leaking onto electrical equipment in your building, and have an electrical professional inspect and/or shutdown power to affected equipment during leaking.  

● In a warehouse setting, identify leaking areas with a pylon or caution tape. Slips are common on wet commercial flooring; take precautions to prevent this and mitigate