Identifying water ponding areas after a recent rain is pretty straightforward, but if it’s been a few days and everything is all dried up it can be a little tougher. Still, there are certain signs to look for that can help you identify these problematic areas. Here’s a few of them:
Identify dried up water spots
Dried up puddles oftentimes leave a noticeable water spot & dark ring around the perimeter. These are usually a good place to start when trying to identify a leak. These areas are common on building that have begun to settle over the years, just as we do as we age 😉 Standing water deteriorates the roof membrane and makes it more vulnerable to leaks. The size and depth of the area will determine the appropriate course of action. Sometimes a simple filler like GreenSlope will suffice to level out the low area and facilitate proper water drainage. Other times, may be to large or deep, requiring more expensive options like adding roof drains, tapered insulation or even total replacement.
Look for clogged drains
The next thing you might do to locate problematic areas would be to go around and check out all the drains, downspouts and scuppers. When these are clogged with leaves or other debris, water has a tendency to collect in the surrounding areas and cause problems. If ignored, the weight of the water in these areas will cause the roof to droop, creating larger pooling areas and increasing the likelihood of a leak. To help minimize this problem, be sure to sweep any debris off the roof on a regular basis to prevent it from clogging up your drains and downspouts.
Note areas surrounding heavy equipment
When roof insulation becomes compressed, especially around HVAC or other heavy rooftop units it can cause the roof to sink in, creating low areas that collect rain water. Other times the units themselves will block water drainage building up the water around the unit. When you see dried up water marks near heavy equipment, wet or compacted insulation may be the cause also. In most cases, you can simply replace the insulation here and then use a filler material to create a level roof slope.
Spray water over the roof
As simple as it sounds, sometimes it’s best just to find a spigot and run a hose up to the roof and blast a bunch of water over areas you think may be problematic and then take an hour or two lunch break. When you return, the water will have evaporated from many areas leaving the larger, deeper areas exposed. On larger areas that take longer to dry up, checking the area periodically and marking the outside of the ponding each time, you will end up with a target around the lowest most problematic area.
Perform an infrared scan
Sometimes it’s best to take infrared aerial pics of the roof at night. These can help detect trapped moisture problems in flat roofs often caused by poor drainage on the roof surface. You might have to pay a professional to get these shots but depending on the size and scope of the project, these images can be invaluable in identifying water damage to insulation beneath the roof membrane. If you’re a DIY kinda guy, you could always pick up a drone and attach an infrared camera to it to snap some photos from the parking lot at night. (Plus they’re a blast to take to the beach — See: Drone Fishing For Tuna). Kidding. Get a professional or go up there and get some close-ups yourself 😉
Feel free to check out our articles on cause, effect, and how to fix. Feel free to check out our product if you’re a DIY kinda guy – building owner, maintenance professional or contractor. If you’re not sure whether our product is right for a particular job, please don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consult. GreenSlope may not be right for every situation and we’ll tell ya if it isn’t. We’ve been in the biz for over 30 years so sometimes there are other options or a combination of such that the situation may call for. Either way, probably best to take care of it before it leads to more costly repairs.
Your drone flying’, tuna fishin’ friend,
The Ponding Water Doctor