It's important to inspect the membrane roof on your commercial building at least once a year or even more often than that. If you don't, plants can grow on the roof and cause a lot of damage. Finding and cleaning off plants before they get too big could save your roof. Here's why plants can be a big problem for commercial roofing and what you can do about it.

Why Plants Grow On Commercial Roofs

All kinds of plants, including trees, can grow on flat membrane roofing. This happens because dust, dirt, and decaying leaves make a good growth medium for plants. Membranes held down with gravel are the most susceptible since the rocks also catch and hold dirt and leaves.

Why Regular Inspections Help

When plants grow on the roof, the roof drain might get clogged and cause water to pond on the roof. You won't have any idea this problem is happening unless you have periodic inspections. Rain should always drain away quickly after it rains. If it doesn't, your membrane roof could start leaking.

Plants can also damage the membranes as well as the insulation under the membrane. If there are only a few plants, the roofer might have to cut away the rotted area, remove the plants, and patch in the new roofing material. When plants take over the roof, the roofer might have to put on a whole new roof because the old roof is leaking so badly that repairs aren't practical.

How To Keep Plants Off Of Your Commercial Roofing

Have trees trimmed if they are too close to your roof so leaves don't fall on the membrane and create a base for plants to grow in. You might also want your roof to be swept and washed periodically to get rid of wind-blown dust and dirt buildup. This might be necessary if your building is near dusty roads or a construction zone where there is a lot of digging and dust.

It's also important to have periodic checks of the roof by your maintenance crew so they can spot damage caused by plants and pull the plants from your roof. An annual inspection by a roofer is also a good idea so damage isn't overlooked. An annual inspection could even be a condition of your roof warranty.

If plant growth causes rips, punctures, or water damage, call a commercial roofing contractor right away. Membrane roofing is often easy to repair, and repairs are easier and less costly when they're done before the damage escalates.