When it comes to maintaining the roof of a commercial building, property owners are generally worried about the insulation and the condition of the roof and its features.  While these things are very important, property owners must consider the roof ventilation as well.  It is important for commercial roofing to always be properly ventilated to prevent problems that can occur when hot air and moisture build up in the highest level of the building.

Proper roofing ventilation is important because the ventilation creates enough airflow for heat and moisture that have accumulated near the roof of the building to escape.  The roof ventilation system also prevents cold air from entering the building, which helps keep the roof at a stable temperature and prevents indoor temperature extremes.  If the roof has ineffective ventilation, condensation may build up on the interior of the roof which can lead to several issues.

commercial roof ventilation

The roof must be properly ventilated year-round because moisture and hot air can gather near the roof in any season and cause problems.  During the summer, proper roof ventilation will allow the hot air and moisture that have risen to the highest level of the building to escape for more efficient cooling.  During the winter, the hot air from the heat needs to escape so it doesn’t heat the roof and cause ice and snow to melt.

Maintaining the ventilation system of your roof will help prevent major issues that can cause damage to the roof and ultimately shorten its lifespan.  If the roof of your commercial building is not properly ventilated, you may experience the following issues with your roof and building:

Condensation Buildup

Condensation buildup in the attic or near the roof can lead to several major issues that can damage the roof and surrounding property.  The moisture from within the building, whether it is from humid conditions or steam from cooking and warm water usage, will rise towards the roof.  If the roof is not properly ventilated to allow the moisture to escape, it will form into condensation.  The condensation will settle on building materials below the roof as well as the eaves, soffits, and roofing materials.

The buildup of condensation is dangerous because excess moisture can lead to the following problems:

  • Structural damage: Wood, insulation, drywall, and other building materials are porous and will absorb excess moisture and condensation. When this happens, the materials can become weakened, warped, or rotted, eventually leading to serious structural damage.  The buildup of condensation can also cause metal components, nails and screws to rust.
  • Mold growth: Moisture is the main resource that mold needs in order to appear within a building. When condensation builds up near the roof, it creates the ideal conditions for mold to grow.  Mold colonies can form on wood and drywall surfaces, and the mold growth will devour these surfaces, causing them to weaken and decay.  The presence of mold can also lead to serious health issues for those who are exposed.  This can be especially dangerous in commercial buildings with a lot of people.

Roof Damage

If the heat and moisture that build up near the roof are not removed with proper ventilation, the roof may sustain damage that can shorten its lifespan.  Both the heat and the moisture can transfer to the surface of the roof, resulting in warped decking, bucking shingles, and structural damage of the wood frame.  Components of the roof such as the shingles may become overheated, which will make them more likely to become damaged and require replacement.  The damage caused by excess heat and moisture can also extend to the siding of the building and the interior walls and ceilings.   With poor roof ventilation, you will not only end up spending money to repair the resulting damage, but you may also be forced to replace your roof prematurely.

Higher Energy Bills

This is a problem that is more likely to occur in the summer as poorly ventilated roofs allow heat to buildup in attic spaces and near the roof.  If this heat has nowhere to escape, it will seep back into the building, raising the indoor temperature.  In the summer, this will cause your air conditioner to run more than necessary to cool the building, which will result in higher cooling costs.

Ice Dams

Ice dams are a major problem that can result from poor roof ventilation during the winter.  This happens when the heat that builds up under the roof causes the ice and snow on the roof to melt.  The melting only occurs in certain areas of the roof, not the entire roof, and the melting snow and ice will refreeze at the edge of the roof, forming an ice dam.  Ice dams put major stress on the building due to their weight and they prevent any melted ice or snow from properly running off the roof.  As a result, the ice dams will grow in size and trap water from the melting ice and snow on the roof which can lead to leaks and water damage.

The weight of ice and snow on the roof can cause structural damage and even collapse if it continues to build up.  Ice dams also create a safety hazard outside your building as large icicles can fall from the roof as the ice dams melt.

Ensuring Proper Roof Ventilation

In order to ensure proper ventilation on your commercial roof, there needs to be continuous airflow that can be achieved by finding a balance between the air intake and air exhaust.  Both the air intake and exhaust are controlled by vents that allow air in and out of the building.  The combination of air intake and exhaust will keep the air moving near the roof to prevent heat and excess moisture from building up.  It is important to make sure the vents are in good condition to ensure that your roof is properly ventilated.  If you need assistance maintaining or installing air intake and exhaust vents for your roof, a roofing professional will ensure that you have the right vents and that they are functional.

Call a Commercial Roofing Professional

If you believe that your roof is not properly ventilating, or if you would like to have the ventilation system inspected, contact a commercial roofing contractor.  Different types of commercial roofing systems use different ventilation systems, so they are not universal.  A roofing professional will recognize the type of ventilation system you need for your roof and ensure it is in working order.  By keeping the ventilation system of your commercial roof properly maintained, you can avoid costly repairs, keep your energy bills under control, and ultimately, extend the lifespan of your roof.

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