Having trees growing next to or in front of your building certainly has its upsides. For one, they provide shade in summer. They offer a picturesque aesthetic. But unfortunately, trees shed leaves. Deciduous trees shed their leaves in the fall and blossoms in the spring. Evergreens shed all year round. It can be a lot to maintain when other things need your attention.
If left unmanaged, accumulated shedding leaves can become a threat to your commercial roof.
HOW LEAVES CAUSE COMMERCIAL ROOF DAMAGE
Here are just a few ways that leaves can cause issues to your commercial building. Contact us right away if you notice any of these symptoms related to your roof:
Low-slope roofs are especially prone to problems related to the accumulation of leaves and other debris on the roof. Water draining from the roof via drains and/or scuppers may wash accumulated leaves and other debris into the drains and/or scuppers, blocking drainage. With enough water, you now have a lake on the roof. The accumulated weight of the water can collapse the roof. Alternatively, water may enter the structure beneath through vent stacks in the roof. Both will result in interior damage and possibly even structural damage.
While a low-slope roof tends to leak more frequently, your steep roof slope can have problems with leaks, too, if dead leaves accumulate. These leaks happen because the leaves act like a sponge or dam, preventing the water from draining like it usually does.
The water will try to seep downwards, going underneath roofing material where possible. This can be problematic for asphalt shingles, designed to protect your building by shedding water. Water underneath shingles will eventually find a nail hole or other means of accessing the structure beneath.
What’s more, accumulated wet leaves can become heavy, causing parts of your roof to buckle or sag under the weight.
- INVITE MOSS AND WEEDS TO GROW
Dead leaves are prime rotting organic material, making them an ideal place for weeds to grow. Seeds from the same tree or random weed seeds tracked in by birds and squirrels can all find a home in the dead leaves on your roof or in your gutters.
Moss will likely be the plant of choice in shadier locations, while sunny spots may sprout invasive weeds. Sometimes weeds grow beyond the dead leaves, attempting to spread roots into roofing materials or through the gutter joints.
Preventing this expensive roof damage is a great reason to clear leaves off regularly.
- CREATE A GREAT PLACE FOR PESTS TO HIDE
All that organic material becomes a wonderful home for bugs. Now, many of the bugs that show up in a leaf pile aren’t necessarily the roof-eating type. But once the water damage starts to take hold, they may view your roof as just another part of the rotting organic material that makes up their home.
In addition, water-damaged wood, such as a wet roof deck, can attract termites — and they do eat the wood which sheets and supports the roof.
- CLOG YOUR GUTTERS AND DAMAGE FASCIA AND SOFFITS
Clogged gutters are one of the classic signs of too many dead leaves. But unsightly waterfalls aren’t the only reason you need to avoid this. The raised humidity and dampness from leaves can increase the chance of water damage and rot to nearby wood components, such as the fascia and soffit, as well as other parts of your house like the foundation.
Once the fascia and soffit have started to rot, they present an open door to mold and termites, and larger pests. Raccoons, for example, can easily shred rotted wood in their quest to find a safe nesting spot for their next litter. Dry rot can take hold and spread.
- LEAD TO DAMAGE TO YOUR FOUNDATION
Your foundation may seem unrelated to the dead leaves falling on your roof, but cascading rivers of water can erode the soil around the foundation. All of this extra water can apply increased underground water pressure, causing basement leaks and, in extreme cases, foundation cracking related to excessive water around the foundation.
These issues are expensive to fix, so preventative maintenance is imperative.
GETTING LEAVES OFF YOUR ROOF
Clearing leaves off your commercial roof is a necessity. Unfortunately, winds can’t be left to handle the heavy lifting. Schedule a regular time to inspect your building with binoculars. If you’re comfortable, you can also climb up on the roof to get a closer look. Then, follow these tips:
- Consider the pitch of your commercial building to inform how you clear away leaves and other debris.
- Use a leaf blower or a power hose to clear any debris from lower-sloped roofs. Be mindful of what direction you blow in, and don’t apply too much pressure. If you use a leaf blower, don’t forget to don your eye and ear protection.
- Try using a leaf rake for high-pitched roofs. Again, be gentle; you don’t want to cause any unnecessary damage.
- Get rid of any branches that are hanging over or touching your roof. That will reduce leaf accumulation.
- If you notice mold growing, spray it with a diluted bleach solution. Warning: Use sparingly; you don’t want to use too much and accidentally kill the plants that grow alongside your building.
Of course, you can always leave all of this hard work to the professionals. Our experts at Softwash Hawaii are happy to service your roof regularly, so you can avoid roof damage and focus instead on your commercial endeavors!
DON’T GET LEAFED BEHIND
These situations are just a few ways in which dead leaves can have knock-on effects that pave the way for much bigger threats to your roof and the building beneath.