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Is Your Roof Leaking or Is It Condensation?

This time of year we receive a lot of calls from properties believing that their roof is leaking. While some of these calls turn out to be actual leaks, many of them are actually condensation issues.

What is condensation on a roof?

Condensation occurs when warm, humid air from inside the building rises and meets the cold roof. When there is no snow and not enough insulation, the moist air condensates, then freezes, forming a layer of ice on the inside of the roof membrane. This is more common in a roof with poor ventilation and poor insulation because the warm air does not have a way to escape. Once the air outside warms up in the spring, the ice melts and you have water in the building and it looks like a leak.

What are the signs your roof has condensation issues?

  • Cracking sound when walking on roof when the air temperature is below zero (this is ice, under the membrane)
  • Leaking only when it warms up and the snow is melting, but no leaking happening when it rains
  • Leaking happening near mechanical units, that have no obvious holes

What should I do if I have condensation issues on my roof?

  • Have an expert inspect the roof to determine the problem areas
  • Make sure building has proper ventilation
  • Make sure that roofing boots, parapet walls and HVAC units are properly insulated
  • Develop a plan to fix problem: if it is roof issue

How do I prevent roofing condensation issues?

It starts with clearly communicating to your roofing professional what is going to go on in the building. If there is high humidity in the building from a pool or vent-less dryers, make sure that the roof system that is installed includes the proper insulation and venting. This is especially important when the roof is located in Minnesota, we have really cold winters, and if there is no snow to help insulate the roofs, we start to see lots of condensation issues.

If you have a condensation issue, let us know, all of our inspections are free.