Roof Management: 5 Unavoidable Obstacles

Roof Management: 5 Unavoidable Obstacles


Roof Management: Unavoidable obstacles

Regardless of building material quality, the forces of nature are going to affect your building enclosure. The building envelope’s main purpose is to shield the inside operations and occupants from outside elements. It’s vital to pay attention to the effects weather can have on your facilities. Here is a list of five unavoidable obstacles to plan around for proper roof management.

UV Rays (Sun)

The roof is under constant opposition from ultraviolet radiation and solar loading. The heat causes oils and plasticizers to migrate, asphalt to age, membranes to shrink and adhesives/coatings to become brittle, inhibiting the roof’s ability to naturally expand and contract with temperature changes. In some cases, exposed surfacing can fracture, leaving the other roof assembly components vulnerable to water infiltration.

UV rays can also have an impact on an unfinished/uncoated metal panel surface or one that has experienced deterioration and rusting. Coated metal surfaces can experience oxidation and fading in addition to the exposure of the underlying metal panel. Metal must expand and contract otherwise it will create damage at fixed points, perimeter edge conditions and penetration flashings. When that damage occurs, there is a breach in the assembly for water to infiltrate the substate/interior.

Rain Damage

Moisture can compromise the integrity of the building envelope through the tiniest of cracks. While roofs should be constructed with drainage capabilities, these functions can be overwhelmed by heavy rains. The excess water goes places it’s not supposed to, resulting in building envelope failure. Leakage disrupts daily operations, frustrating roof management and shortening the lifespan of your building assets. For more information on how to investigate if moisture has infiltrated your building, download our White Paper.


Freeze-thaw is the process by which water freezes, expanding cracks, and then melts to fill the newly widened space. Low-slope roofs are susceptible to snow damage, while steep-slope roofing systems can form ice dams. Extreme temperature shifts can affect the roof’s composite materials, causing them to shrink or expand more than they are naturally designed to do. The buildup of water, ice and snow on the roof surface can force its way under the roof covering or through vulnerable joints in the roof surface, penetrating the building envelope and entering the building’s interior environment.


Wind damage can be severe, especially if not accounted for in the Design phase. Tornadoes and hurricanes, while not common in most parts of the country, should be planned for in the areas they do occur. High winds, not solely limited to tornadoes and hurricanes, must be taken into consideration in coastal regions, plains, mountainous terrain and tall building structures. Design considerations for winds should address substate affixment, perimeter edge sheet metal, insulation securement and the roof covering itself.

More commonly the wind that affects buildings is straight-line wind which can happen in response to thunderstorms. According to Whole Building Design Guide of the National Institute of Building Sciences, “Because of building aerodynamics (i.e., the interaction between the wind and the building), the highest uplift loads occur at roof corners.” Check out their article for an in-depth look at all the ways wind affects the building envelope.


Everything has a serviceable life expectation, and the roof is no different. The average lifespan of a commercial roofing system is 17-20 years. Wear and tear from unpreventable natural factors listed above just means that roofs don’t last forever. However, with the appropriate steps taken towards maximizing the asset’s service life potential through proper design, regular repairs and preventative maintenance, you can expect to extend the service life of the roof system to greater than 30 years.

Technical Assurance is all about sustainability in the truest sense, making things last longer. We can partner with you in excellent roof management to extend the life of your building envelope and save you money in the process. Request a consultation today.