How To Repair A Flat Roof

It can be frustrating to deal with a flat roof that is leaking. Plus, if repairs are not performed appropriately, the leaking roof can be harmful to the building’s overall value and integrity. Although every kind of roof leak is a problem, leaks that occurring in a flat roof tend to be far more complicated. Flat roof repair can be simple or can be considerably complex, depending on the extent of the damage and exact location of the leak.

Locating the Leak

As a general rule, it is easier to locate the source of a leak on a flat roof than a shingled or sloped roof. However, any kind of roof leak can be more complicated than anticipated initially, especially if you are not experienced. One of the reasons for this is due to the fact that the area where water is leaking is generally not where the actual leak is occurring. This is because water tends to penetrate the roof’s membrane and travel across the roof until it finds a seam in the roof deck, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, etc. and can seep inside. Regardless, there are certain steps that you can follow to locate the source of the leak.

Repair Materials

There are certain types of materials that are more common than others to have on your roof, which means that they will most likely be necessary for repairs. Living in the U.S., you are most likely to have one of the following types of flat roofs:

Rubber (EPDM)

This type of roofing material is incredibly durable and is the most commonly used in the U.S. as well as the world. It is constructed from mostly propylene and ethylene with a composition similar to that of a tire. Because of this, the repair is relatively easy. Firestone is one of the largest manufactures of EPDM roofing.

Modified Bitumen

This type of roofing is an asphalt roofing material constructed with mainly asphalt along with many solvents and rubbers. It is then applied with a flame.

Built-up Roofing (BUR)

Also referred to as tar and gravel roofing, BUR roofing has been a common type of roof in the U.S. for more than 100 years. These roofs are made from bitumen layers and reinforced fabrics, creating an incredibly tight roofing membrane.

TPO Roofing

This particular form of flat roof is single-ply and is formed from ethylene-propylene and polypropylene rubber that has been polymerized together. It is installed in a mechanically attached or fully adhered system with a white membrane.

PVC Roofing

This roofing is constructed from two different layers of PVC material as well as a layer of polyester in between each PVC layer, serving as a bit of reinforcement. These layers include additives to aid in making the roofing material more flexible, UV stable, and to help prevent curing.

You can repair small roof leaks in the aforementioned roofing materials yourself with the proper techniques and tools. It is important to take into consideration the condition and age of the roof when you decide to try to take on a repair yourself. With that being said, if you doubt your own capabilities, it is recommended to give us a call so that your overall roofing investment is protected.

Causes of Flat Roof Leaks

There are a multitude of reasons why your roof may be leaking. Some of a few include hailstorms, windstorms, electrical storms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and other severe weather. If you experience any kind of natural disaster, it is imperative that you inspect your roof and assess the damage that has occurred. This is true regardless of whether you notice a leak immediately.

How to Fix a Flat Roof Leak

It is entirely possible to locate a roof leak from the interior of the home, even if it is a small one. You will want to begin by measuring from where the leak is to the closest two walls. Use those measurements to help locate the leak on top of the roof.

Keep in mind that most flat roofs will have just a slight slope to them, which allows water to run off. With that being said, you should begin attempting to locate your leak from the potential point of entrance due to the fact that water will run downhill. In addition, you will want to look for any signs of worn spots, loose screws, punctures, rips, seam separations, or other problems with the membrane. If there are no obvious signs of damage, then check the caulking around the vents and flashing, vent pipe boots, and other structures for any signs of damage and imperfections.

If you still don’t find a leak after all of this, contact a professional to locate the leak and repair it. Alternatively, if you don’t feel comfortable trying to locate the leak yourself, get in touch with a roofing contractor who has the tools and experience necessary to do the job quickly and efficiently.

DIY Repair

In the event that you wish to attempt repairs yourself, it is imperative that you proceed with extreme caution. A ladder must be used, and ladders can be dangerous. You must use a ladder that is strong, durable, and in good condition. You should also use a ladder that can hold your weight with ease, and ensure you have another adult with you to hold the ladder steady. If the roof is slippery or icy, understand that you should wait to perform the repairs, take more precautions, or contact a professional.

The kind of repair that you perform will depend on the kind of roof that you have, but roofing tar, rubber roofing materials, and rubber roof patches could all be used. If you have a TPO or PVC roof, you will want to make sure that you work with a roofing contractor who specializes in that type of roofing specifically. Specialized supplies and tools will be needed to address a rip, hole, or leaky seam, so working with a qualified contractor will be your best option.

Flat Roof Repair Options

If you are the owner of a piece of property with a flat roof, there is a good chance that you have a roof warranty for up to 20 years. Because of this, you may want to give the company a call that installed the roof to perform the repairs to ensure that you keep your warranty intact and save money if the warranty is indeed still valid. In the event that you find out your warranty has expired, you can try to perform the easy repairs yourself, but if you are concerned, you can give a professional a call. Ultimately, to protect your investment, hiring a professional is the best way to go. Just give us a call here at Superior Roofing and we’ll get you on the schedule.

Repairs vs. Replacement Options

When it comes to repairing or replacing your roof, there are a few questions that you must ask yourself to determine which one is the best option for your property and your pocketbook. What type of condition is your roof in? Is it in good condition overall? Was the damage caused by wind or hail? Is the affected area relatively small?

If you are able to answer yes to these questions, then you can likely move forward with a repair. However, the repair must be done properly. A do-it-yourself repair is fine, as long as you are 100 percent confident in your abilities. If you are not, then it is strongly recommended to contact us.

How Long Will a Flat Roof Last?

As a general rule, flat roofs last somewhere between 20 and 25 years, as long as the roof was properly built and has undergone routine maintenance over the years. If you are suffering a roof leak due to material break down and age, the investment in repair simply does not make sense. Instead, you should sit down to determine the type of roof you currently have and how long it is typically lasts. Generally, these leaks will begin to appear around 12 to 15 years on quality roofs, so if this has happened to you, a replacement should be considered.

Something else to consider is the fact that the roof may need to undergo a replacement much sooner if it was not initially installed properly. Also, remember that small leaks can be repaired relatively easy, but larger and/or multiple leaks can sometimes mean that a replacement is the best option.

Repair vs. Replacement Costs

When deciding whether to repair or replace your flat roof, you must look at the costs of the different kinds of flat roofing materials. Even without considering labor costs, materials like EPDM, TPO, and PVC will be more expensive. At the same time, you can expect for flat roofing repair expenses to be higher than replacement expenses due to the fact that it takes more time and effort to repair the roof than to simply replace it.

When it all comes down to it, your best bet at protecting your investment is to hire a professional roofing company. While there is always the risk of a professional not being able to save your roof, they will have the best shot at it. If you would like to schedule a free inspection, contact us today at Superior Roofing.

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