apartment building - how to tell if you need a new roof

How to Tell If You Need a New Roof

Your commercial roofing system plays an integral role in the livelihood of your business. Whether you have an office building, a multi-family apartment, a restaurant, or a warehouse, your roof supports your ability to make money and protect your assets as well as everyone inside. How can you tell when it’s time for a new roof?

No business owner wants to hear that they need to replace their commercial roofing system. However, all roofs will need to be replaced at some point. Replacing your roof when it’s time can help prevent common issues that can cost you big bucks in roofing repairs, or worse, additional interior or exterior damage you need to fix down the line.

Here’s how to tell if your commercial property needs a new roof.

Signs You Need a New Roof

There are a few signs your roof could be near the end of its life. While these signs don’t automatically mean your roof needs to be replaced, they usually indicate that you need to call a professional commercial roofing contractor to find the root of the problem and evaluate the condition of your roofing system.

You Smell Mold

A musty smell inside could indicate a moisture problem somewhere in the building. That moisture could be coming in from your roof. If you suspect your building has mold, it’s always worth getting your commercial roofing system professionally assessed to be safe.

You See Water Stains

Like mold, water stains inside your building could indicate that your roofing system is no longer doing its job of keeping moisture out. Water stains can show up on the walls, ceiling, or chimney, and may not always appear wet. They could be areas where water has leaked and dried, and may have a brown or even a yellow appearance.

Your Flat Roof is Blistering

Flat roofs have a unique structure that helps them protect your building and retain your energy efficiency while repelling water and reflecting heat. But if you notice that your single-ply roofing material is bubbling or blistering, that could indicate trapped air or water underneath. Localized blistering or bubbling may not be a big issue, but widespread damage is always a cause for concern.

You Notice Deteriorating Materials

No roofing material lasts forever. Eventually, wear and tear over time will take its toll on your roofing system. If you notice any loose materials from high winds, sagging from structural damage, or even unprotected areas where your roofing material has compromised, it’s time to call a professional roofer and start thinking about a new roofing system.

Your Energy Bills Are Going Up

If your energy bills have been higher than usual with no discernable cause, this could warrant a roof inspection. It could be that your commercial roofing material is no longer properly deflecting heat away from your structure, which could lead to a rise in temperature. Considering the age and condition of your roof when reviewing your energy costs can be an indicator of whether or not it’s time to replace your commercial roof.

You Have Excess Ponding Water

Flat or low-slope commercial roofing materials are subject to ponding water when there is a drainage problem or structural issue. Although the core issue may not be the roof itself, it’s always a good idea to have an experienced roofing contractor assess and correct the problem. This can prevent further damage to your roofing system. While flat roofing materials can hold small amounts of water without causing issues, excess ponding water is typically a cause for concern.

Look for Specific Signs on These Types of Roofing

Commercial properties have specific types of roofing, from asphalt-based modified bitumen to single-ply membranes, that are different from residential roofing materials. Here, we’ve outlined how to tell if you need a new roof based on the most common commercial roofing materials. Look out for the signs they typically give when they need to be replaced.


Thermoplastic polyolefin (TPO) roofs are single-ply membranes that are white and designed to reflect sunlight. An increase in energy costs, any extensive tears or bubbling, excess ponding water, or musty smells could be a sign that your TPO roof has reached the end of its life. TPO roofs can last up to 20 years with the right care.


Polyvinyl chloride, or PVC, is a single-ply roofing material like TPO. Holes, blistering, or excess standing water are signs that your PVC roof may need to be repaired or replaced. PVC commercial roofs can last upwards of two decades with proper maintenance.


Ethylene propylene diene monomer, better known as EPDM, is a type of rubber roofing. It can last up to 30 years with the right care. Unlike TPO roofs, these roofs are black. If your EPDM roof is ripped or torn extensively, a replacement is likely in your future.

Modified Bitumen

As an asphalt-based roofing system, modified bitumen roofs operate differently from single-ply membrane commercial roofs. These roofs may show tears, cracks, loose materials, worn asphalt, and pooling water when they need replacing. Modified bitumen roofs can last 20 years if taken care of properly.

Green Roofing Systems

Green roofing systems support plant life and can help offset environmental damage. They can last upwards of 50 years or even longer before needing to be replaced. However, you’ll know your green roof is reaching the end of its life when the membrane beneath is compromised. A damaged membrane could lead to mold, moisture, or structural damage.

Roof Coatings

Does your commercial roofing system have a rubber roof coating on it? Roof coatings can extend the life of your roofing system by sealing out damage. Eventually, your roof coating will experience wear and tear, and you’ll need to consider a replacement. Roof coatings that are cracked, bubbling, or discolored may indicate the need for a roof replacement.

Does Your Commercial Property Need a New Roof?

Do you know the condition of your commercial roofing system? Pay attention to the above signs that could indicate you need to start thinking about a roof replacement. If you notice any, don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional commercial roofing contractor. Replacing your roof at the right time can save you money in damages and energy bills!


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