Double Trouble: Termites & Water

Dark staining means that the roof sheathing has been wet in the past from leaks. In this case, the insulation covers the evidence of the roof leak.

You may not think about it much, seeing as how it’s over your head most of the time, but the roof is an important part of every building.  The roof provides shelter from the sun, from hot and cold temperatures, and from water leaks.  A roof also provides large interior spaces for warehouses and other large buildings with walls and columns.  Roof structures also support important building safety systems such as interior lighting, utilities, fire-proofing assemblies, insulation, roof-mounted air-handling equipment, and fire-suppression systems.   

When things get tough it’s easy to start down the path of deferred maintenance (that’s putting off fixing that leaky roof until you “have more” money to fix it) but it’s important to make sure that your building’s roof is properly maintained – otherwise you could be looking at more costly repairs than if you’d fixed it sooner.

Here are two of the more common roof repair issues we come across here in Southern California:

 

Termite Damage

Termite Damage to roof support beam.

We were recently retained to evaluate termite damage within the roof of a storage warehouse.  Our main goal was to determine if the termite damage was bad enough to significantly weaken the roof structure.  A weakened roof structure would sag and cause ponding of water on the flat roof, leading to roof failure over time. Long-term water exposure can also cause rusting of steel framing connections and plywood nailing which reduces the weakens the roof’s framing and could potentially cause a collapse.

A termite-caused sag in the roof will collect water during storms and other weather events. As a result, we are often hired after the damage has been done. One of the first things we do is to evaluate a roof that we suspect may have experienced damage caused by water leaks.  Water intrusion is one of the most destructive forces on buildings.  Roof leaks, if not properly repaired, will cause long-term deterioration of roof sheathing and structural members.  Water can collect in unventilated spaces and evaporate slowly while causing wood rot in hidden members.

Water Damage

Ponding of water on sagging roof.

We are often hired to evaluate roofs that have experienced damage caused by water leaks. Water seeping into unprotected areas can be one of the most destructive forces on buildings.  Roof leaks, if not properly repaired, will cause long-term deterioration of roof sheathing and structural members.  In addition, water can sometimes collect in unventilated spaces and evaporate slowly — causing wood rot in hidden areas.

Visible water stains on the roof framing. Possible hidden damage to the roof sheathing above the foil insulation.

Roof leaks should be quickly repaired, and all wet areas of roof framing and sheathing should be exposed and dried to prevent long-term water damage to hidden roof areas.  Structural roof inspections should be performed every five to ten years, and the roof membrane (the waterproofing layers) should be inspected by a licensed roofing contractor every couple of years.  The purpose of the roofing inspection is to look for unusual wear and tear, impact damage caused by windborne debris, movement of shingles or roofing caused by wind, and roof drainage conditions.

If you discover that you have an issue with your roof, or if you think you might, please give us a call. We’re here to help you figure out what to do next.

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