How To Know Your Roof Leak Is An Emergency (& What To Do)

Finding a roof leak at your commercial building may set your teeth on edge. Whether there is a subtle discolored stain on your ceiling or water is dripping when it rains, you need to solve the problem as soon as possible to minimize damage. But is the leak an emergency?

Every roof leak is considered urgent, but some cases are more urgent than others. Here’s how to know if your leak is an emergency or not.

Disruption of Business Operations

A roof leak is considered an emergency when it affects the daily functioning of the work going on inside the building. If there’s a slow, small leak but you can still conduct your business like normal without interruptions it would not be considered a roofing emergency. The leak may call for immediately making a repair appointment with a roofer but may not call for a same-day response like true emergencies require.

Conversely, a severe roof leak could force a building owner or tenants to shut down operations for several hours or days. Water actively dripping down from the ceiling and leaving puddles on the floor is a roofing emergency.

Until the roof is repaired the affected areas should be secured and/or evacuated to prevent slip and fall accidents. Disruptive leaks which lead to business downtime and losses should be addressed right away.

Damaged Products

Water doesn’t mix well with many things. A leak over big equipment would be considered a major emergency. Whether it’s a small or large leak, water has the potential to:

  • Ruin equipment
  • Cause an electrical fire
  • Cause serious injuries

If you’re running a warehouse, retail shop, or self-storage business, a roof leak can damage your inventory. As such, a roof leak becomes an emergency if there’s a risk of products and materials being damaged.

Shock and Fire Hazard

Your electrical system is another element of your commercial property which prefers dry conditions. The connection areas might not be as well-protected as coated wire running the length of your building. Junction boxes, for instance, contain uncovered wires which can become electrically charged if they come in contact with moisture from a leaking roof. Wet wires may:

  • Short out
  • Throw sparks
  • Cause a fire
  • Damage the rest of the electrical system

A roof leak is an emergency if it is getting water close to any section of your electrical system. Once you become aware of such a leak, shut off the power at the main panel and contact an electrician and a roofing contractor. The electrician will make sure nothing has been compromised. The roofer will fix your roof leak quickly to prevent potential electrical hazards.

Worsening Water Damage

Water may travel through the decking, framing, insulation, and other materials on its way inside. Structural damage is one of the most obvious signs of a serious and long-standing roof leak. It shows in the form of:

  • Damaged ceiling joists
  • Rafters
  • Decking
  • Wall framing
  • Trim 
  • Fascia 
  • Soffit 

Leaky roofs never get better on their own or fix themselves. Even if the leak isn’t bad yet it’s important to get it fixed as soon as possible. It may not be an immediate emergency but it will grow larger day by day.

A small leak can silently cause considerable roof and interior damage. This damage will get worse each day and would be considered an emergency.

A general rule of thumb for determining the severity of a leak is to check the speed at which droplets fall.

  • Are they fast and big? Contact a reliable roofing contractor for emergency leak repair.
  • Are they small and slow? While not an emergency, you should have the problem addressed quickly.

Steps to Take When Your Commercial Roof Begins to Leak

A preventative roof maintenance program with a semi-annual roof inspection and repairs should be considered. The program can:

  • Help avoid water damage and operational disruption
  • Prevent small issues from worsening
  • Extend the roof’s lifespan
  • Safeguard the building’s integrity
  • Avert the need for emergency roof repairs
  • Save money while keeping your roof waterproof

Depending on the severity of the damage, dealing with a leaking roof can involve:

Trust in Midwest Roofing for your commercial roofing needs. We provide emergency roofing services as well as preventative maintenance options to fit almost every budget. We will stop those leaks to make sure your commercial building is protected for the long haul. Contact us today to get a free project estimate. We serve commercial building owners and managers from Columbia to Springfield.