How to Know When Your Flat Roof Needs to Be Replaced

If you’re a property owner with a flat roof, be it commercial or residential, it’s vital to keep a close eye on its condition. Due to their design, flat roofs generally require more work than other standard roofing options. Although it may have been simple to build, a flat roof requires regular inspections and maintenance to ensure everything is functioning properly. One of the most difficult decisions is understanding whether you need to replace your flat roof or if making a few minor repairs will be enough. In this blog, we outline issues you may come across that tell you the time has come to replace your existing flat roof.

7 Common Flat Roof Problems Leading to Replacement

If you see the following indications, be sure that minor roof repair won’t be enough.


  1. Water Pooling

One of the biggest issues flat roofs face is pooling water, which can result in irregular stress that causes cracks. Over time, the roof may shift a bit, meaning it may not be as level as it was when it was installed. This will most likely result in water pooling in dips and divots. While flat roofs are manufactured to stand up to water, these pools need to be drained as soon as they form to ensure water doesn’t seep into the roof’s layers. When left unchecked, the pools will harm the roof’s surface and shorten its lifespan.

  1. Bubbling, Blistering and Adhesion Failure

Bubbling and blistering are defects that typically result from adhesion failure. The visible bubbles are generally filled with water or air. This could be a result of poor workmanship, bad insulation or insufficient ventilation. When caught early, the problem can be dealt with; left untreated, the blisters will get too large to be fixed. They can later pop and leave holes in your roofing that make your property vulnerable to interior damage. The cause behind this could be that the roof had excess moisture when it was installed.

  1. Moisture and Leaks

Flat roofs face lingering moisture issues that can be handled effectively so long as you stay on top of them. This type of roof, like any other, can leak, as the water doesn’t have anywhere to go but down. This results in moisture seeping into the roof membranes, leading to further problems such as fungus and mould. The best way to deal with leaks and moisture is to have your roof inspected and maintained regularly. If problems aren’t caught early, a professional roofing company will be able to advise you on the best course of action.

  1. Cracks, Splits and Tears

This is perhaps the easiest problem an untrained eye can spot. If a crack or split is left for too long on a flat roof, the plyboard or chipboard will absorb water. This may turn the material to mush so it becomes uneven, making the roof unsafe to walk on and preventing it from functioning at its best. You may choose to have your roof repaired if the problem isn’t extensive.  However, if you notice cracks or splits across the whole surface, it’s best to replace it.

  1. Flashing

Similar to other materials, flat roofs with asphalt expand and contract with changes in temperature and weather. When left unchecked, this expansion and contraction will cause the flashing to pull away from the corners and edges of the roof, leading to moisture getting trapped and leaks appearing on your ceiling. Failing to address the issue promptly will deteriorate your roof’s flashing, compelling you to replace it.

  1. Organic Growth

Although algae, lichens and moss might not seem like big problems, they signify that your flat roof requires attention. Any kind of organic growth on your roof is indicative of unwanted water retention. Left untreated, it can do extensive damage to your building. If you can’t figure out why there’s organic growth on your roof, have it checked by a professional.

  1. Damaged Top Coat

If you can constantly hear a fluttering sound coming from your roof during windy conditions, chances are the top coating is damaged. As a result, every time it rains or snows the fluttering panels will expose the materials underneath to weather and cause damage. Not addressing this issue could mean that the roof fails completely and causes weather or water damage.

Deciding Between Sectional Roof Repair and Total Replacement

Minor repairs can take care of some issues.  However, if your roof is damaged extensively, repairing it will most likely turn into a never-ending exercise. Roof contractors might suggest roof replacement as a more cost-effective solution in such cases.

Of course, there are many other issues that may arise with your flat roof and cause problems, but the ones mentioned here are some of the most common that property owners have to deal with. If you think your flat roof needs attention, contact an experienced roofing company to take care of the problem and prevent it from escalating. They will be able to figure out exactly what’s wrong with your roof and provide an accurate quote to repair or replace it.

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