Commercial Systems Prone to Water Damage: SERVPRO of North Atlanta
Commercial properties present unique risks when it comes to water damage. Unlike residential homes, which are usually one story and have easily accessible crawl spaces and attics, commercial buildings can be many stories high with flat roofs and multiple storefront windows. They also often have expensive specialized equipment that can be very costly to repair or replace if damaged by water. In this blog post, we will discuss the different parts of a commercial building that are at risk for water damage, as well as some tips on how to prevent it.
The first and most obvious risk for water damage in a commercial property is the plumbing system. Because commercial buildings have more bathrooms, kitchens, and other water-using fixtures, they also have larger and more complex plumbing systems. These systems are often located in hard-to-reach places, making them difficult to repair if they spring a leak.
One of the main water damage challenges according to The Hartford Insurance is an improperly maintained sprinkler system. By law, most commercial buildings must have a fire sprinkler system, but many building owners forget to regularly maintain and test these systems. While a well-maintained fire sprinkler system can help prevent extensive fire damage in the event of a fire, improper maintenance or disaster planning can cause extensive water damage that can flood multiple floors.
Another plumbing risk is burst pipes. Commercial buildings, especially high rises tend to run at a higher pressure than residential buildings. Therefore, a burst pipe has the potential to release significantly more water than a home.
One of the ways in which we help commercial property owners prevent catastrophic property damage before it happens is through our app-based Emergency Response Planning program (ERP).
In addition to the plumbing system, there are a number of exterior commercial building components that can experience water damage. One of the most common is the flat roof. Because flat roofs are not sloped like traditional pitched roofs, they tend to pool water instead of shedding it. This can lead to leaks and eventually, if left unaddressed, major water damage.
Some common commercial roofing systems include:
- Built-up Roofing (BUR): Often called tar and gravel roofs, these commercial roofing systems are built with a semi-continuous membrane installed in layers, then covered in aggregate. While they are usually simple to maintain, best practices suggest inspecting the roof for deterioration and possible leak points at least twice yearly.
- Thermoplastic Single-Ply Membrane Roofing (PVC & TPO): These roofs are installed in large rolls that are then welded together at the seams with heat. The material is very durable and oil-resistant. However, the heat-welding methods require skilled installation, which can lead to weak points and leak-prone areas if not performed correctly.
- EPDM Roofing: Some roofers call these "rubber roofs" because the material they are made of, ethylene propylene diene monomer is very rubber-like. This kind of roof is derived from oil and natural gas, and appears dark gray or black. When installed correctly and with the highest thickness available, this type of commercial roof will last a very long time with little to no issues. Unless you experience storm damage in your area, an annual check for leaks around the roof penetrations should suffice.
Commercial window systems are built for durability and use, however, they can often present a unique water damage challenge for commercial facilities. Most aluminum glazing systems aren't intended to be 100% waterproof. Most commercial window systems are meant to limit water penetration during extreme circumstances while also weeping water back out to the exterior.
By directing all moisture to the sill flashing, storefront systems limit water penetration. It's critical that the sill flashing be installed correctly in order to avoid water damage. Making sure that sealant is put on the top of the rear leg before installing the sill is one of the most important aspects of a good installation.
The most essential aspect of maintaining water penetration with a storefront is end dam fastening and sealing. Water will enter the building through the jamb locations if end dams are not properly fastened and sealed. Improperly (or missing) end dams can cause significant water damage to the interior drywall or flooring around commercial storefront windows.
Like anything else in a building, time and the elements can cause wear and tear and failure of these commercial window water control systems.
Commercial Water Damage Inspection Services
So if you notice moisture or water damage around your storefront windows, you should consider calling SERVPRO of North Atlanta to inspect for potential water damage issues. Our technicians are trained to identify, troubleshoot, and restore all types of commercial water issues.
Call today to schedule your commercial service!