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Types of Surveys Carried Out on Industrial and Commercial Roofs

Industrial and commercial roofs are vital components of any building, providing protection against the elements and ensuring the safety of occupants and assets within. However, over time, these roofs can deteriorate due to various factors such as weathering, aging, and poor maintenance. To ensure the longevity and performance of industrial and commercial roofs, regular surveys are essential. Surveys help identify potential issues early on, allowing for timely repairs and maintenance, thus avoiding costly damages and disruptions. In this article, we’ll explore the different types of surveys carried out on industrial and commercial roofs and their significance.

Initial Inspection Surveys

Visual Inspection

Visual inspection is the most common and fundamental type of survey conducted on industrial and commercial roofs. It involves a thorough visual examination of the roof’s surface to identify signs of damage, deterioration, or defects. Visual inspections are typically performed by trained professionals who assess various aspects such as roof condition, flashing details, drainage systems, and potential sources of leaks.

Non-Destructive Testing (NDT)

Non-Destructive Testing (NDT) techniques are employed to assess the integrity and structural stability of industrial and commercial roofs without causing any damage. NDT methods include ultrasound testing, ground-penetrating radar (GPR), and electromagnetic testing, among others. These techniques provide valuable insights into the condition of the roof substrate, detecting hidden defects or anomalies that may compromise its performance.

Infrared Thermography

Infrared thermography surveys utilise thermal imaging cameras to detect variations in temperature across the roof surface. These variations can indicate areas of moisture infiltration, insulation deficiencies, or thermal bridging, which are not visible to the naked eye. Infrared thermography surveys are non-invasive and can quickly identify potential moisture issues, enabling proactive maintenance and repair efforts.

Core Sampling

Core sampling involves extracting small samples or cores from the roof membrane or substrate for laboratory analysis. This method allows for a detailed assessment of the roof’s composition, including the type and condition of materials, presence of moisture, and extent of degradation. Core sampling provides precise data for evaluating the overall health and performance of the roof and determining the most appropriate remedial actions.

Moisture Surveys

Moisture surveys are specifically designed to identify and quantify moisture content within the roof assembly. These surveys employ various techniques such as capacitance, impedance, or nuclear moisture meters to measure moisture levels accurately. By pinpointing areas of moisture infiltration or accumulation, moisture surveys help prevent mold growth, structural damage, and premature roof failure.

Importance of Each Survey Type

Each type of survey serves a distinct purpose in assessing different aspects of industrial and commercial roofs. Visual inspections provide a comprehensive overview of overall roof condition, while NDT techniques offer insights into structural integrity without causing damage. Infrared thermography surveys detect hidden moisture issues, while core sampling provides detailed data on materials and composition. Moisture surveys quantify moisture levels for effective moisture management, and structural surveys ensure the safety and stability of the roof structure.

Factors Influencing Survey Selection

Several factors influence the selection of the most appropriate survey type for industrial and commercial roofs. These include the age of the roof, previous maintenance history, type of roofing material, and budget considerations. Older roofs may require more extensive surveys to assess accumulated wear and tear, while roofs with a history of leaks or repairs may benefit from specialised moisture surveys. The type of roofing material also plays a significant role, as certain materials may be more susceptible to specific issues such as moisture infiltration or thermal degradation. Budget considerations dictate the scope and frequency of surveys, balancing the need for comprehensive assessments with cost-effectiveness.


Surveys play a crucial role in ensuring the longevity, performance, and safety of industrial and commercial roofs. By employing various survey techniques such as visual inspections, NDT, infrared thermography, core sampling, moisture surveys, and structural surveys, building owners can identify potential issues early on and implement timely repairs and maintenance. Factors such as the age of the roof, previous maintenance history, type of roofing material, and budget considerations influence the selection of survey types. By following best practices and leveraging advanced technology, stakeholders can optimise roof asset management and mitigate risks effectively.