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Leak Detection System For Commercial Roofing: A Look At Electric Field Vector Mapping


Here's a little known fact: leaks cause more damage to residential and commercial roofs each year than termites, fires and storms combined. Being able to detect even the smallest of leaks, so that they can be repaired immediately, can help reduce the extent of the damages that would have otherwise been sustained. While detecting leaks was only possible years ago when symptoms began to emerge, new technology today has made detecting even the smallest of leaks possible without any problem. This article will focus on the low-voltage impedance testing offered by Electric Field Vector Mapping technology (EFVM).

The Gist of Electric Field Vector Mapping (EFVM)

EVFM technology is mostly used for commercial roofs and can accurately pinpoint the actual breach present in the roofing membrane rather than just the presence of water. The key to this technology is to rely on electricity for detection purposes. It works because water is an amazing conductor and can be used as an electrically conductive medium, since it can conduct electricity at least 10 times better than the roofing membrane.

A licensed roofing contractor will install the EFVM detection system by installing a wire loop around the perimeter of the roofing membrane. The wire loop will be used to introduce an electrical potential, and the area that is enclosed by the loop becomes an upper electrical plate. The structural deck underneath then becomes the lower electrical plate, and the roofing membrane will act as an insulator. If water seeps in from a leak within the membrane, an electrical constant will be established between the two plates. This can be measured and detected, and the roofing contractor can then follow the direction of the electric field to determine the exact location of the leak.

The Advantages Offered by EFVM

The EFVM detection system is already used by many large commercial companies to detect minor leaks for repairs. It is one of the newer leak detection techniques being introduced onto the market, and has so far been showing great results. If you are on the fence as to whether this type of system will be beneficial for your commercial property, you might want to take a look at the many advantages to this type of system. They include:

  • being ideal for green roofing systems, as it is a non-destructive method that will not cause any impact on any plants on the roof;
  • having pinpoint accuracy for quality control purposes, as the precise location of the leaks can be easily identified with no guesswork;
  • being compatible with both sloped and flat commercial roofing systems;
  • functioning efficiently even with inclement weather. In fact, wet weather conditions are preferred with this detection method, as it establishes an electrical flow;
  • providing commercial roofing contractors the ability to re-test any repairs that are made to the roof immediately to determine whether the affected area is still leaking;
  • eliminating hazards related to overloading the structural decks;
  • being less expensive than conventional flood testing techniques available on the market; and,
  • having the ability to be installed after cover systems have already been installed.


It's difficult to detect small leaks on commercial roofs. More often than not, these small leaks go undetected until they become much larger problems. Installing leak detection systems, like EFVM, can help significantly reduce the extent and severity of the damages that are frequently caused by leaks, as leaks can be easily detected even if there are no visible water damages present yet. It is definitely something that it is worth looking into, as it can significantly improve the integrity and lifespan of commercial roofing systems.

For more information, contact a professional roofing company, such as Central States Roofing.


28 October 2015