Have you inspected your single-ply roof lately?

The right tech can find even pinhole leaks, fast
Needle in a haystack
Finding a pinhole within an industrial roof gives a whole new meaning to "Needle in a haystack." (Photo credit: Laurent Koob)

Big retail outlets and institutional buildings across Ottawa have embraced single-ply membrane roofing systems, but with their advantages comes a greater need for regular inspection and maintenance, versus old-school tar and asphalt.

Why? Look at the name, “single-ply.”

There is no redundancy in this type of roof. There is only one membrane, one layer of water-proof material, standing between you and the elements. A single pinhole is all it takes.

There is a reason why single ply has become so popular in recent years. It is cleaner, cheaper and quicker to install versus asphalt. It can be highly emissive, meaning it reflects the sun’s energy – the building is easier to keep cool in the summer, thereby saving on energy costs.

Today’s single ply membranes are also engineered for long-term service, able to endure seasonal temperature shifts, UV radiation, and ozone. They come in various thicknesses and can be reinforced for greater tear resistance. Sheets as large as 50 by 100 feet are available for large roofs to reduce the number of seams – always the first place to expect a leak - which if gone unnoticed or untreated, can lead to unwanted expenses, premature roof replacement, and major environmental strain.

But the durability of the materials is only half of the equation, says, Ernie Cecchetto, president of Ottawa’s Roof Maintenance Solutions.

"This is a state-of-the-art technology that can reduce the investigative work necessary to track small holes in your field membrane by several hours"

“It’s important to work with a roofing contractor that is qualified to install the type of single-ply roofing system you have chosen,” he says. “Different materials also require different maintenance qualifications in order not to void the roof’s warranty.”

For hassle free performance, regular inspections are a must. The single-ply membrane can still be compromised by factors such as critters and wind-blown debris. Property managers are advised to do their homework and ensure that the inspection service used is certified to work with the specific type of roofing installed. Usually, the same company that installs the roof is hired to inspect it. Although extending the life of the roof is not always prioritized over its replacement when hiring roof installation firms, as opposed to a roof maintenance firms, where the longevity and optimum performance of the roof is the main objective.

In order to prevent any further damage, locating these pinholes is increasingly important, Finding one in a roof the size of a football field, for example, gives a whole new meaning to “needle in a haystack”. 

Mr. Cecchetto and his team have the answer: High Voltage ELD Technology

This technology allows inspectors to quickly and effectively check a roof or bridge deck for pinholes and porosity. It can test non-conductive membranes from 20 microns to 6.5mm thick.

How does it work? A high volt charge electrifies a copper probe that is pushed along the membrane substrate. When the probe passes over a pin hole or open lap in the membrane, the charge is grounded and an audible alarm sounds to advise the technician of the anomaly. 

“This is a state-of-the-art technology that can reduce the investigative work necessary to track small holes in your field membrane by several hours,” says Mr. Cecchetto. “We can detect leaks quickly on most of the single-ply roof membranes in Ottawa.”

Leaky roofs can damage property, destroy inventory and disrupt regular business operations. A little proactive maintenance from trusted and transparent experts like the highly skilled staff at Roof Maintenance Solutions, can buy you peace of mind and ensure your single-ply roof gives you the maximum return on your infrastructural investment and years of worry free service.