Industry Knowledge

Roof vs. HVAC

If you own or manage a commercial roof with Rooftop Units (RTU’s), you may have encountered the complex issue of a leak near the unit. Sometimes the issue is evident and easily repaired, but other times the leak will return and an advanced understanding of both roofing and HVAC is required. Below we are going to talk about both assets and how Holland provides a solution, regardless of the contributing factor.

Let’s start with the roof. RTU’s are operating, moving assets that require scheduled maintenance. Depending on the type of roof system you have, it may provide additional protection in the form of walk pads or pavers. If this is the case, you are in better shape than most. This additional protection to the roof system prevents the most common cause of leaks, foot traffic. Any penetration is a potential leak source in a roof system. Membrane detail can fail, and this can become more common as the roofs age due to membrane movement and shrinkage.

Keep in mind that your roof warranty does not cover any damage caused by the HVAC unit. Disconnected drain lines, loose or unsecured doors and certain chemicals are factors that can be harmful to the roof system. The most common issues we see are broken doors penetrating the membrane, disconnected drain lines causing ponding near the RTU and general foot-traffic damage.

Next is the HVAC unit. Leaks can often occur from the rooftop HVAC systems as well. Many times, the drain opening or pipe that drains the condensation out of the unit gets clogged and starts to drip in the building. Rainwater can sometimes enter the HVAC unit where it’s not supposed to and get into the building, or the seal around penetrations within the unit itself can deteriorate allowing water in. Capable mechanical contractors are usually needed to help resolve these types of leaks.

Here are a few common leak spots for rooftop equipment:

  • Poorly designed filter access covers on HVAC ductwork
  • Improperly sealed joints
  • Bent, loose or missing filter access panel on HVAC unit
  • Holes or loose edges on HVAC fresh air intake hoods
  • Holes and poor weatherstripping in HVAC air intake panels
  • Wind-blown rain through skylight louvers
  • Concrete wall cracks above the ceiling line can mistakenly be reported as roof leaks

Roof leaks are not a science, but we do know that proper investigation can quickly reduce business disruption and costly service visits from multiple trades. If you have recurring issues on your roof, contact Holland and let us show you the difference that we deliver.

In need of a new Roof? Let the IRS help with the cost via Section 179.