Detecting leaks in single-ply roofs

I had what I think was a great original idea a few days ago, on how to locate leaks in single-ply membranes. I’ve been doing some reading about existing techniques, but have not yet convinced myself that my idea is not already in play.

What methods/tools are you guys aware of?

Divining-rod. :smiley:

Seriously, I doubt you’ve come up with anything new. Everything from IR, to food color, blowing air into the system, etc., has been tried with varying degrees of success. The best way to find a leak in a single-ply membrane is still the old-fashion way. Wait until after a rain, then calculate the approximate location of leak on roof based on the drip(s) inside. Allow for migration of water over insulation and roof deck prior to dripping, then go up on the roof and look for the wet-spot! :shock:

Of course, finding leaks that others can’t is something that I do rather well. I’ve done it in places like the A&B Brewery here in Houston; Metal Container Corp. in New Windsor, NY; President’s box at the Washington Tennis Center in D.C.; etc. Then again, I look at the entire building envelop and not just the roof.

I also do a lot of hidden leak detection and will tell you some old school methods that works well is to have two guys, one on the roof and one in the building by the leak, they both have radios. the guy in the building bangs on the ceiling with a sratch bar or somthing to make a loud noise at the point of entry. the guy on the roof listens for it and marks it with a chaulk or marker. you of course take note of what type of deck it is, then they trace it down .
real tough leaks can be solved in a similar way with two guys doing a water test with a hose to simulate the driving rain and isolate different things in the leak area. I do this one a lot on chimneys and walls.
There are several more old tricks but they are top secret. :o

I use a X to Y quadrant to locate a leak. I find them within 100 sf of area. But It also depends on which way the water is flowing what type of decking, how many roofs. type of penetrations in area. Is water wicking from 1 area to another. I have seen leaks run Up hill at times. It also depends on The positive or negative pressure of the building. But the X to Y usually tells me where to look.