Newly repaired leaking metal roof.

A leaking metal roof can cause a significant amount of damage to your building. By the time the roof begins to leak, there’s already a considerable amount of damage done, so you’ll need to act quickly to reverse the damage.

It’s crucial that you don’t leave your metal roof unchecked, especially as it’s aging. That’s also why you need to hire the right commercial roofer for new roof installation and metal roof repairs.

If your metal roof is already leaking, there may be a few reasons why. Keep reading to learn more about how to spot (and fix) your commercial building’s leaking metal roof.

Causes Of a Leak with Metal Roofing

Metal roofing is typically made from copper, aluminum, zinc or one of three variations of steel, and can come in different options of roofing systems, like a standing seam metal roof. 

Each type of metal roofing material and system comes with its own set of pros and cons. However, metal roofing (overall) is one of the most durable types of roofing you’ll come across.

Under ideal circumstances, your metal roofing won’t require much upkeep or even replacement for a long time. With painted metal roofing, you can expect its lifespan to be between 40 and 70 years with little to no issue. It should also retain most of its initial reflectance and emittance for just as long. 

If you find yourself with a leaking roof, the important thing to understand is that the cause isn’t the type of metal you’ve chosen or the quality. The issue can typically be traced back to the installation.

Let’s take a closer look at the common causes of a leaking metal roof, and how you can help fix these problems with a trusted commercial roofing company.

Metal Roofing Issue #1: Fastener Issues

The metal paneling on your roofing system is brought together by one of two different types of fasteners: clips or metal roofing screws and rubber washers. The clips fasten in a way that conceals the metal seam laps. They typically involve a metal roof sealant (such as acrylic and urethane) to bind the paneling of the entire roof together.

Metal roofing screws with rubber washers are self-drilling and can be put as close together as every two square feet. By putting them in close proximity, the seam laps of the metal paneling are held flush without the additional need of a sealant or butyl tape

Over time, these fasteners can pop out, leaving holes or gaps in the metal seam laps, which can allow water in and pave the way for other issues down the road. 

Some metal roofing systems are much better at holding a tighter seal, such as standing seam metal roofing systems

Metal Roofing Issue #2: Missing or Badly Secured Paneling

If the installation of your roof panels is done poorly, they’ll be prone to shifting or blowing away with high winds. This happens when the fasteners (mentioned above) aren’t secured properly. Metal roof panels have to interlock correctly and securely, otherwise, you’ll lose bits and pieces over time.

Most metal roofing can withstand wind up to 110 miles per hour when installed correctly. If you’re losing pieces of your metal roof, your installer likely didn’t do their due diligence upon installation.

Metal Roofing Issue #3: Open Seam Laps

For metal roofs, the laps of your seams should be secure and flush. When they aren’t, the seams will open up, causing gaps or capillaries in your roof surface.  

Not only will open seam laps lead to a leaky metal roof, but they can also lead to structural damage, costing you a lot of money and headache in the long term.

Metal Roofing Issue #4: Missing Pieces

Consistent high winds, storms, debris and even deterioration can cause pieces of your metal roof to fall off. Even if you live in an area that doesn’t always produce this type of weather, your metal roof is going to sustain wear and tear over time.

When you have other structurally necessary parts that are poorly installed, you run the risk of water intrusion and leaks. That includes foam closures, vent flashings, boots, downspouts, gutters and edge metal. 

For example, if your plumbing vents or HVAC curbs aren’t installed with the proper materials and sealants, they’ll come apart much easier, allowing the elements to enter. 

Metal Roofing Issue #5: Surface Rust

Depending on the finish you apply to your metal roofing, rusting may occur sooner than later. Rust is a normal reaction when metal is exposed to the elements. But fortunately, rust doesn’t automatically equate to leaks.

However, if you notice rust on your metal roofing, address it immediately. Rust left unattended will spread and cause damage. The roof coating will begin to peel, the metal will begin to scale, and eventually, it’ll eat away at the metal causing holes. All of this can lead to severe structural damage.

It’s important to use a rust inhibitor to stop the rust from spreading. It won’t kill off the rust or stop it completely, but it’ll buy you enough time to have the necessary repairs done. 

Metal Roofing Issue #6: Holes and Penetrations

Rust isn’t the only thing that can cause holes in your metal roofing system. Damage, such as holes and punctures are often due to foot traffic involving the dragging of heavy objects. 

For example, installing an HVAC unit can cause some pretty significant damage. HVAC units are quite heavy, and dragging one of them across a metal panel roof will result in scrapes, dents and punctures. 

This can also lead to deflection, which is the crimping or creasing of the metal paneling. When this happens, water can pool in the area of deflection, causing rust. Additionally, HVAC units and other penetrations can cause weak points in your roof flashing.  Always inspect your metal roofing after installing or working on HVAC units to avoid costly metal roof leak repairs later down the line. 

Metal Roofing Issue #7: Water Movement

If your metal roof is leaking, it could have something to do with recent patch repairs. The design of even a flat roof system should allow for water to flow off easily. If you’ve had any patchwork done to fix holes, they could be at fault.

If the materials used to patch up your roof don’t allow for proper elongation, it will cause water to pool up and get stuck in that area. Always make sure that the materials being used to fix your roof are flexible. That way they’ll move along with the rest of the metal paneling. 

Metal Roofing Issue #8: Incompatible Materials

Metal roof systems require specific materials that prevent corrosion and oxidation. Using certain metals together can cause a negative reaction like corrosion and oxidation and negatively affect the waterproof dependability of metal roofing.

Using the right materials to install the flashing for the vulnerable areas of your building is critical. Areas such as skylights, vents, etc., are usually where the source of the leak lies. The wrong metals and sealants will do more harm than good for the integrity of your metal roof and lead to adhesion problems. 

When you use sealant, utilize an acrylic or urethane coating. Not only will these options seal the space where leaks happen, they’ll also help prevent rust. An alternative to using sealant is butyl tape.

Metal Roof Leaking? Hire a Commercial Roofer You Can Trust

A leaking metal roof is serious. It can cost you a lot of money in structural damage and repairs, and it may even cause you to need a new metal roof. It’s also the last thing you want to deal with, especially if you’re running a business or depend on the space day in and day out. 

Having a roofing contractor you can trust is essential when getting (or repairing) a metal roof. If you’re in need of leaking metal roof repair, roof maintenance, or roof replacement, contact a trusted commercial roofing company. Our professional and experienced team is here for you 24/7!