How To Prevent And Repair Bird Damage On Commercial Roofs

Posted on: 25 February 2015

Birds are a nuisance that can damage the roof of your business to the point that it needs a full replacement. Knowing what issues to watch for, how to prevent them, and what to do when damage occurs can help you manage bird issues before they become a disaster.

Drainage Issues

On roofs with gutter systems, whether it's traditional eave-based gutters on pitched roofs or run-off openings on a flat roof, nesting birds are the main concern. A drainage blockage can occur if the problem birds begin building nests in the gutters or openings.

In traditional gutters, this can prevent water from running off the roof in the desired area. It can also lead to ice dams in winter when snow melt doesn't drain properly.

The problem can be more dire on a flat roof. Blocked drainage causes water to collect on the roof surface. During heavy snowfall or rain, the collected moisture puts too much weight on the roof structure, which can lead to damage, leaks, or even a roof collapse.

Material Damage

Bird droppings aren't just unsightly – they can also cause irreversible damage to a roof. The droppings are highly acidic, which can eat through your roofing materials. Tar-based flat roofs, such as those found on many businesses, are especially susceptible to acid damage from the droppings.

As the acids eat into the tar, leaks can form. Water that makes its way through the roof and into the ceiling can cause costly damage to both the roof and to any product below. Water can also cause an electrical hazard if there's any exposed wiring in the ceiling.

Prevention

Preventing damage begins with regular roof inspections. If you can access the roof, look for bird nests and gutter blockages, along with increased droppings. You can simply clean up nests and hose off droppings as they occur. If your roof isn't easily accessible, twice-annual roof inspections can catch any problems early.

The best option is to keep the birds away. Applying a sticky bird deterrent to the roofing surface, or installing bird spikes or scare devices, can prevent the birds from landing on your roof in the first place.

Repairs

A prompt roof repair is necessary if you find bird damage during an inspection, or if you suspect there may be a problem. On shingled pitched roofing, this may mean the replacement of a few shingles or a full replacement of the roof, depending on the extent of the damage.

Tar roofs with minor damage but no immediate leaks typically require resurfacing, which will seal them against further damage. If a leak has already occurred, full replacement is the better option. Although quick fixes are possible, the patched area isn't as strong where it joins with the old roofing material, so a future leak will likely occur along this joint.

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