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Common TPO Roofing Problems and Easy Fixes

Posted on June 14, 2024

TPO roofing problems

As a professional roofing contractor serving Northeastern Wisconsin, my team and I have completed dozens of TPO roofing installation projects. This is one of the most popular flat roofing materials in the area and has a huge demand in the commercial arena. But despite being one of the most sought-after roofing membranes, TPO roofs can have some issues. 

In this blog post, we will cover some of the most common TPO roofing problems and how you can fix them to make sure your roof lasts longer so you can focus on running your business.  

Problem #1: Ponding Water

Ponding Water On TPO Roof
Ponding Water On TPO Roof

One of the most prevalent problems with TPO roofs is ponding water. This condition, also known as standing water, occurs when water accumulates on the roof’s surface, creating shallow pools (hence the name ponds) that fail to drain properly. 

Roofs, including TPO, are made to be water resistant, however this problem can still occur due to improper installation or drainage. 

Not only TPO, but ponding water is a common issue for most commercial roofs. This problem can lead to significant damage, including membrane degradation and seam failure. And if the water stays there for a long time, it can even cause structural problems which can be expensive to repair. 

How To Take Care Of Ponding Water 

To address ponding water, you should first identify and clear any debris or obstructions that may be preventing proper drainage. Make sure to keep your roof clean and check on it, especially after heavy rains. If the issue persists, you can consider installing additional drains or creating a slight slope to encourage water flow. 

In some cases, a professional roofer may need to be called in to assess the situation and make necessary repairs or adjustments to the roof’s structure.

Problem #2: Roof Punctures

Roof Punctures On TPO Roof
Roof Punctures On TPO Roof

You may have read that TPO is exceptional in resisting punctures due to its flexibility and durability, and it is. However, the truth is that no roofing material is completely immune to physical damage. 

TPO roofs can develop punctures if there is more than usual foot traffic on your roof. Foot traffic during routine maintenance or repairs significantly contributes to the problem, as can the impact of hailstones or falling branches during severe weather events. 

Punctures can not only decrease the curb appeal of your roof but also cause durability issues. These breaches in the membrane can allow water to penetrate the roofing system, leading to leaks and potential interior damage.

How To Fix Punctures

The treatment of TPO roof punctures depends on the severity of the damage. 

For example, if the issue is significant, i.e., the hole is large and the underlayment has also been damaged, it is best to seek professional assistance from a roofer to ensure proper repair and prevent further issues.

For small punctures or tears, you can use a compatible TPO patch kit to repair the damaged area. The process typically involves cleaning the affected area, applying a primer, and then adhering a patch over the puncture or tear. 

Problem #3: Damage From UV Rays

Damage From UV Rays
Damage TPO Roof

While TPO membranes are designed to be resistant to UV radiation, prolonged exposure can still lead to degradation over time. This can manifest in various ways, each posing a threat to the integrity and lifespan of the roofing system.

One of the most noticeable signs of UV degradation is discoloration. The vibrant white or light-colored TPO roofing membrane may start to yellow, brown, or even turn chalky in appearance. This change in color is not just an aesthetic issue, it also indicates that the membrane’s chemical composition has been compromised, potentially leading to brittleness, cracking, and loss of flexibility.

How To Protect Your TPO Roofs From Harsh UV Rays 

You cannot stop the sun’s rays from hitting the roof, but there are measures you can take to protect your system. 

For example, you can consider applying a compatible UV-resistant coating or sealant to the TPO membrane. Roof coatings can provide an additional layer of protection against harmful UV rays. Additionally, regular inspections and maintenance can help identify and address any signs of premature degradation before they become more significant issues.

Problem #4: Seam Failures

TPO roofs are installed in large sheets that are heat-welded or chemically bonded together at the seams. These seams are the points where the individual sections of the TPO membrane meet and are joined together, creating a continuous surface. While these seams are designed to be durable and watertight, over time they can become vulnerable to failure due to various factors.

One of the primary causes of seam failures is improper installation. If the seams are not properly heat-welded or chemically bonded during the initial installation process, they may not create a strong and lasting bond.

Seams can also fail due to harsh weather and foot traffic, leading to water penetration, leaks, and potential damage to the roof and building interior. When the seams of a roof fail, it allows water to seep into the roofing system. If not fixed, it can lead to even bigger problems.

How To Ensure Tight Seams For Your TPO Roofs 

Seams can make or break your flat roofing system so it is essential to hire a professional roofing company to install your new TPO roof. They will use the right tools to make sure the seams are attached correctly. For minor seam failures, building owners can use a compatible TPO sealant or caulk to repair the affected areas temporarily. 

Problem #5: Membrane Shrinkage

TPO membranes are known for their flexibility, but over time, they can shrink due to exposure to heat and UV radiation. This shrinkage can cause the membrane to pull away from the roof’s edges, penetrations, or fasteners, creating gaps and potential entry points for water.

How to Address Shrinkage 

To mitigate membrane shrinkage, homeowners should ensure their TPO roof is properly secured and fastened. If shrinkage has already occurred, a professional roofer can re-secure the membrane using appropriate methods, such as adding additional fasteners or re-seaming the affected areas.

How To Take Care Of Your TPO Roof

As you can see, there are several problems that can occur with TPO roofing membranes but you can avoid most of them if you stay proactive and take a little time out for roof maintenance. Here are some things you can do: 

Regular Roof Inspections

Whether you are a homeowner or a commercial building manager, regular roof inspections are important. Inspections can uncover issues with your roofing system that may have gone unnoticed until major damage was done. However, you should make sure to hire a professional roofer to conduct the inspection as they are better equipped to determine what is wrong with your TPO roofing system. 

Install Roof Coatings

To extend the lifespan of your TPO roof, install a roof coating. These add an extra layer of protection, help your roof fight against UV rays and ponding water, and reduce the chance of leaks.  

TPO Roofing Services From The Best Roofers In Northeastern Wisconsin

As the premier TPO roofing service provider in Northeastern Wisconsin, our team of highly skilled and experienced professionals is dedicated to ensuring your TPO roof performs at its best, year after year.

Whether you need a new TPO roof installation, repairs, or routine maintenance, we have the knowledge and resources to handle it all with precision and care. Contact Prestige Roofing today at (920) 791-0414.