Commercial Roof Uplift Testing

The Importance of Commercial Roof Uplift Testing

Bill Wilson
By Bill Wilson
contributor

September 6, 2021


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  • When the wind blows across the surface of a roof, it creates a region of low pressure right above it. This causes an upward acting pressure that detaches and lifts the roofing system in a phenomenon referred to as roof uplift. The frequency of roof uplift occurrence is chiefly dependent on wind speed, among other factors. One of the parameters of evaluating the quality of commercial roofing systems is by testing their ability to withstand varying wind speeds. The roofing system is built to withstand average wind conditions under normal circumstances. In very windy situations, some buildings, depending on their structures and their location against the winds, experience roof uplifts. 

    Manufacturers run tests on different roofing models to determine the maximum level of wind it can withstand before they fail. These tests are used as a standard measure for roofing systems and are referred to as wind uplift ratings. 

    Also Read: Roof’s Suitability for a Solar Panel Installation

    The Pros of Roof Uplift Testing

    Roofs are more prone to accelerated roof system degradation, unlike other building components, because of their vulnerability to varying factors like; weathering, stress from traffic, expansion, and contraction, and adverse effects from weather vagaries. To get an assurance of optimal performance and compliance, roof system uplift testing is widely accepted as an international standard with benefits such as; 

    Identifying Installation and Design Deficiencies

    Roof uplift testing provides insight into roof design anomalies that could accelerate the overall roof degradation and shorten the roof system’s lifespan. Some installation deficiencies include metal decking or fastener placement issues, improper storage causing roof boards unable to resist expected pressures, and insufficient or wrongly installed adhesives.  

    Being Aware of Your Roofs Remaining Life

    The remaining life of a roof is a question many homes and property owners always seek to know. Although there is no standard answer to this because of different manufacturers and roofing materials, there are a few ways to give you approximate expectations on the projected lifespan of your roof. One of these ways is through roof testing.  

    A Sense of Security

    Knowing that your installed roof system complies with all stipulated wind loads brings about a sense of security. You won’t have to worry about the possibility of leakages after every significant weather situation. Remember that roof testing by itself isn’t enough; proactive maintenance is necessary to keep your roof in good condition and prevent potential problems in the future.

    Meeting Warranty Requirements

    A basic manufacturer’s warranty covers roofing materials, and one of the conditions to meet them is roof uplift testing. To maintain the validity of your roof’s warranty, a regular roof inspection is pertinent. Also, ensure to stay with your original manufacturer.    

    Meeting Insurance Requirements

    To assess and determine the quality of an insured roof, some insurance companies have made it a policy for home and property owners to provide roof uplift ratings.

    Exposure Factors Affecting Roof Uplift Intensity

    The context under which roofing materials are used plays a significant role in evaluating roof uplift ratings. Some of the notable factors include;

    The Building’s Height 

    The taller a building is, the more wind it is most likely to face. Wind speeds, load, and pressure tend to increase with a rise in elevation above the earth. Tall buildings are recommended to adopt building designs that facilitate the passage of wind to mitigate risks to the roof from wind uplift.   

    The Building’s Location 

    The building’s location also influences how much wind uplift your roof will have to bear. Locations in higher altitude areas frequently experience severe weather conditions, so they will likely experience more potential wind uplift impact. On the other hand, relatively flat areas have a lower possibility of experiencing strong wind uplifts. 

    The Building’s Surroundings 

    The surrounding structures around a building are another factor influencing the amount of wind uplift your commercial roof may experience. A building in an area dominated by taller buildings, structures, and tall trees is much less likely to experience damaging wind uplift than a building located in an open space. This is because areas with a dense population of tall structures cause the wind to break and its speeds checked. Low lying areas with sparsely populated networks and trees will experience high speed and possibly roof damaging winds.

    The Building’s Openings 

    Building openings like cracks and windows may lead to an internal pressure buildup and depressurization during windy periods. An inside pressure buildup may increase the risk of a roof uplift occurrence. The best way to prevent intense internal wind pressure issues is to ensure your building is fully enclosed. 

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