Performing a Water Test

Lets face it, dealing with water leaks of any source can be stressful and hard to deal with, especially when it comes to roofing! Commercial roofs are obviously a sensitive topic of discussion for all building owners because if the roof is leaking, the problems are often noticed and felt! With many facilities, roof leaks cause unpleasant aesthetic issues, damage, and can deter business if not properly addressed. Some leaks are minor and rather easy to fix however every now and then the extremely difficult and “non-findable” mystery leaks show up and can be a real nuisance for both the building owner and the roofing contractor.

Most times, after a roofing contractor makes several attempts at solving a repeat leak with no success in stopping the roof leak, a “water test” may be the next step in the process for find a proper solution.

Water tests are used to literally test the roof with controlled water sources in order to find the location of the leak source. Water tests can reveal leaks in the roof itself, HVAC units, walls, penetrations, or any other areas. Peach State Roofing has found that a majority of the time in which a water test is completed, it typically reveals the leak source to be something other than the roof system itself.

The basic process of completing a water test starts with finding a good water source on the building and simply running hoses from the water source to the area of the roof being tested. The roofing contractor will then, if needed, plug any drains in the area to make sure that water does not drain off the roof during this test. Once that is complete the roofing contractor always should start off with test the field (flat) part of the roof area. The principle to follow in doing a water test is to always start from the bottom and work up. Typically a roofing contractor will have a technician on the roof performing the water test itself and also a technician on the inside of the building to radio in when the water starts showing up as a leak.

Some times it can take 30 minutes to an hour of keeping the water on the roof to ensure that it is or is not leaking. The main point in this first step is to ensure whether the roof system itself is or is not the source of the leak. If the roof has been water tested and never leaks, the contractor will then bring the water up to the flashings on the curbs or penetration. If these areas do not leak, they contractor will proceed up ward to perhaps a HVAC unit or a wall area.

Basically the process is strategically placing water on areas from “the bottom-up” until the leak reveals itself on the inside. When the water starts showing up as a leak, the technician inside the building will radio up to the roof thus allowing them to fully test the most recent ‘water test’ areas to ensure the findings are correct.

The process of completing a “water test” can be a long draw out scope of work all while forcing the contractor to test areas a good distance from the actual leak location inside the building. As Bo Holloway, PSR representative out of the Nashville, TN office says. “Water goes all the places it’s not supposed to go!”

In the end, owners/contractors simply need to follow proper protocol when performing a water test and if done correctly, it can be a great measure to help solve leak issues for any commercial building.