A flat roof is exactly what the name suggests. It is a roof that is pitched at a low angle and is seen as almost level or “straight”. Flat roofs are extremely common on garages, commercial buildings, and home/patio extensions.
They have their own sets of benefits and challenges compared to sloped roofs, and it’s important to consider these and what goes into repairing a flat roof.
Flat roofs do not have the angles that sloped roofs have. Therefore, the natural challenge with flat roofs is moisture and water. If the roof is poorly installed or there is no drainage, liquids may pool on the roof. The roof is designed to hold up water.
Still, suppose the water is allowed to stay there for a long period of time. In that case, it will ultimately lead to the deterioration of the roof’s exterior, which may result in a shortened lifespan and/or leakage.
Once a roof stops preventing water from entering the building, it may lead to other building problems such as mould, etc.
Another common issue with a flat roof is aging. Over time the roof’s asphalt may lose its elasticity and result in cracks appearing. These are usually signs that the roof needs repairing, or if the damage is extensive, it may need to be replaced.
If a flat roof cracks, it may be structurally compromised; therefore, it is extremely important to immediately contact a roofing professional. Looking for a roof replacement? Check out Top Glaze for a wide range of roof services.
Common Flat Roofing Problems
Whether you own a commercial building or your home just happens to have a unique flat roof, you know that it often requires more work than other standard types of roofs.
While it may have been simpler to build, it requires a lot of maintenance and inspections to keep it up and make sure that everything is functioning as it should.
The hard part about a flat roof is knowing whether you need to get it replaced or if you just need to do a few minor repairs. We’ve put together a list of the most common problems that occur in flat roofs and how best to deal with these issues depending on their severity:
One of the surest signs that your flat roof needs replacement is a phenomenon called alligatoring. What happens is the asphalt used to build your flat roof has aged and lost its elasticity, causing it to crack and bubble and look something like the skin of an alligator.
Unfortunately, this means that your asphalt flat roof has deteriorated past the point of no return and will need replacement.
Leaks and Moisture
Probably the most common problems with flat roofs, leaks and lingering moisture are issues that can be dealt with effectively, as long as you stay on top of them. Like any roof, a flat roof will develop leaks, but the water doesn’t have anywhere to go but straight down since it’s flat.
This means that moisture can seep into the roof itself and cause problems that may lead to mold and fungus. The best way to deal with this is to make sure that you have your roof inspected regularly, and maintenance every time you find an issue.
Buckle in Membrane
Most asphalt flat roofs are constructed similarly to shingled roofs in that they are made up of a membrane soaked in asphalt and then laid across the top of the building to make the roof; unlike shingled roofs, however, the membrane on a flat roof is all one piece.
This means that over time, as your house shifts and settles, so too will your roof. Excessive movement can cause buckles in that asphalt membrane, which signals the end of your flat roof’s life. A roof that is buckling is not safe to live under and can cause major problems down the line. It’s a good idea to get it replaced as soon as possible.
Since your roof is flat when it rains or snows, there’s nowhere for that precipitation to go. As your home settles over time, the roof itself will shift a bit, meaning it might not be as level as it was when it was first installed.
This may cause water to pool in divots and dips in your roof. While most materials are manufactured to hold up to water, you should drain these pools as soon as possible and check to ensure that water didn’t seep into lower layers of the roof.
If pooling is allowed to linger, it’s likely to deteriorate the exterior of your roof, shortening the lifetime of the flat roof.
Crack in Roof
Flat roofs tend to have more pressure exerted on them, since they are flat instead of slanted.
Sometimes this pressure can build up, and if the pressure and stress become excessive, it can cause your roof to crack. If your roof does crack, you should call a professional immediately. In addition to exposing your home to precipitation, a crack in the roof is often a sign that your roof is structurally compromised, and it’s time for a new one.
Like most other materials, asphalt flat roofs tend to expand and contract with changing weather and temperatures.
Over time, this continued expansion and contraction can cause the flashing to pull away from the edges and corners of your roof, leading to leaks and moisture that can get trapped inside your roof.
The best way to avoid this is to inspect and maintain your flat roof regularly. Once the leaks become significant, or if you have a lot of deterioration in the flashing, you’ll be forced to get a new roof.
What Goes Into Repairing a Flat Roof?
Flat roofs require a lot of knowledge and expertise when being maintained, repaired, or replaced. It’s essential that you use a qualified roofing company.
The best repair method for a flat roof is prevention. You should have qualified professionals inspect the roof semi-annually or after major storms, etc. They can identify any minor issues and repair them before they become major issues.
They will also be able to determine if your roof needs repaired or replaced. Sometimes a roof may beyond repair and needs to be totally replaced. As a general rule, flat roofs need to be replaced every 10-15 years, so a good place to start is to find out how old your roof is.
One of the common flat roof issues mentioned earlier was the pooling of water.
This is where liquid collects and can cause damage to the roofing materials. There may be various reasons for water pooling, but sometimes it may be as simple as the pitch of the roof is off. In this case, you can add tapered insulation when replacing your flat roof. This will allow water to run off into the gutters and prevent pooling.
Rotted decking is another issue often caused by leaking roofs.
Many roofs are covered with a base sheet and a modified bitumen cap sheet. The cap sheet can be installed by hot mopping asphalt or torch-applied. This is important to note because to determine whether the decking is rotting, you need to strip away the felt in the leaking areas to determine whether a roof needs replacing or if it can be repaired.
Tips to Flat Roof Repair
Hire a Licensed Roofing Contractor
When it comes to any roof, you should not take it on yourself to repair your roof, but when it comes to outside help you shouldn’t just hire anybody. Hire a licensed roofing contractor from Eustis Roofing to perform your flat roof repair.
Repairing a flat roof can become a fairly complex affair, and on the document side of things, it can be a truly complicated roof insurance claim. An expert roofer can take care of damages like a flat roof leak or perform a flat roof coating, efficiently and knowledgeably.
Get a Roof Inspection
Before engaging in any repair or having someone else do so, you must get your roof inspected.
You can do a self-inspection, but if there is damage you would want to get Eustis Roofing to inspect.
By having a professional roofer inspect your flat or a low slope roof, you can ensure that the right damage—and its causes—are deduced. Roof inspectors can find the correct origins of a leak since where the roof is leaking doesn’t necessarily mean it’s directly above.
Knowing Your Flat Roof Repair Material
When it comes to your flat roof repair, you must consider the material of your roof.
There are a few materials that are common in the United States—rubber, bitumen, TPO, and PVC—and each have different tools to use, and techniques that are required to repair the roof.
A licensed roof specialist would know the material involved and know the right procedures to repair the damage done to a flat roof.
Consider Flat Roof Re-Roofing
If your flat roof is suffering from multiple leaks, bowing or buckling between joists, or the elements have deteriorated the surface; you should consider getting your home or business re-roofed. Repairs for the damages mentioned would be a bad use of resources, where re-roofing will be a more effective route.
DIY Guide on How to Perform a Flat Roof Repair
A lot of homes and commercial buildings have flat roofs. Unlike typical residential roofs, flat roofs are horizontal and have a very little slope. For that reason, flat roof materials are totally different. The most common types of materials include EPDM (Ethylene Propylene Diene Monomer), TPO (Thermoplastic Olefin), Polyvinyl Chloride, and modified bitumen.
If you have a flat roof, one thing you need to know is that this roofing type is prone to leaks. The biggest threat is water. Any hole or broken barrier on your flat roof is a potential entry point. Damage is caused by multiple factors including the age of your roof, poor drainage, and flashing and membrane problems.
Brantford Flat Roof Repair
Unless your roof can still be salvaged, you need to have it replaced by a professional roofer in your location. In this article, we will be looking at the ways you can perform a do-it-yourself flat roof repair. If you’re dealing with a leaky roof, this guide is for you. Let’s get started, shall we?
Clean Your Roof First
Before performing any kind of repair, the first and most important thing you should do is to check whether your gutter has debris that prevents water from draining properly. By nature, flat roofs do not drain as effectively as pitched roofs, and for that reason, it’s important to make sure that drainage is adequate.
If there is puddled water, dry it with rags or towels—leave it to dry completely. Also, make sure to remove any debris so you’ll be able to easily spot the sources of leaks. Mark off the leaky areas with chalk so that you can come back and fix them.
Repair Your Roof Seams
If you don’t pay close attention to your EPDM roofing seams, they can weaken over time and cause leaks. Water and dirt tend to build up. After cleaning your seams, separate a leaking seam about 12 inches from the leak, then start applying your adhesive.
Use a soft brush (paintbrush) to spread the adhesive to the upper and lower parts of the seams, including the corners. After applying the adhesive, make sure to press the seams together. There should be no air bubbles present. Avoid repairing your seams during windy days since this will prevent the seams from adhering together.
Patch Flat Roof Blisters
Blistering is common among flat roof materials. In roof blisters, air or moisture tends to accumulate beneath your flat roof’s membrane. Exposure to heat from the sun causes these trapped bubbles to expand and break over time. Remember that blisters cause problems regardless of whether they break or not.
To prevent blisters from growing bigger, slice them open in the middle using a utility knife. It should go all the way through the blister. If there is water inside the blister, squeeze out water towards the centre and let it dry.
To seal off the opened blister permanently, patch it up with a thick coating of roofing cement. Check out our range of roof restoration services here.
Recoat Your Flat Roof
After cleaning your roof and repairing blisters, you can now recoat your roof. Recoating is a good option since it provides a waterproof barrier to your roof, keeps your interior cooler (since it reflects heat from the sun), and reduces your heating and cooling costs.
If you prefer installing rolled roofing on a flat roof, you can simply add a new one over an existing rolled roofing. Make sure that the rolled roofing stays flat all throughout. Trim the rolls prior to fastening or applying an adhesive to make the installation process easier.