The roof is obviously the most exposed part of any building, whether it be commercial, industrial or residential. It is susceptible to damage from all types of weather, including wind, rain, snow and sun. Keeping it in good shape is important as it protects the building (and those inside) and makes the structure aesthetically pleasing. There are many types of roofs, chief among them flat and sloped. Each is prone to its own kind of damage and requires unique treatments to prevent same. In this blog post, we will focus on flat roof maintenance. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know.
Common Flat Roof Problems
A flat roof is not actually a level surface. In fact, it is slightly sloped to prevent clogging by water. Still, it is prone to severe damage over time if not well maintained. Here are a few problems common to flat roofs.
1. Standing Water
Pooling of water usually happens when the slope of the roof is not steep enough. It can also occur if the roof has begun to sag or if there is a blockage in the drainage system. You should fix this problem at the earliest instance to prevent the water eventually damaging the roof’s protective membrane. This can lead to water leaking into the rooms located immediately below the roof or into the attic. The solution to these issues is to reconstruct the slope or to clear debris from drains to ensure proper water drainage.
EPDM, or ethylene propylene diene monomer, is a durable synthetic rubber usually used as a protective membrane coating for roofs. Though known for its toughness, EPDM can shrink around the edges. This affects its waterproofing capacity, leading to moisture sometimes getting into the layers underneath. Small shrinkages can be fixed with a simple repair, but major shrinkage may necessitate the costly replacement of the entire protective membrane.
Moisture trapped between the roof and protective membrane is a common problem of flat roofs and can lead to blistering and cracking. This is a concern for houses or buildings located in hot and humid places. Though not often a major issue, it is wise to contact a professional flat roof contractor to fix it as soon as possible to prevent further damage.
4. HVAC Damage
Many homeowners and commercial builders put air conditioning units on their roofs, but their installation and the attendant vibration can lead to wear and tear that eventually causes leaks. Regular professional roof inspection is advised.
Materials Needed to Maintain a Flat Roof
Roof inspection requires a few tools, including:
- Broom to remove debris.
- Hand brush to clean gutters and other drainage areas.
- Pressure washer to help get rid of moss or algae. A chlorine solution wash is a faster method but be sure there are no plants or people with sensitive skin nearby as it can be harmful.
How to Conduct a Flat Roof Inspection
The inspection of a flat roof is conducted in the following ways:
- Remove debris
As the roof is the most exposed part of the house, it will be cluttered with leaves, twigs, soot and dirt. Be sure to sweep these away and dispose of them to prevent the clogging of drains.
- Run water over the roof surface
Are you concerned about water leakage? If so then use a hose to distribute water over the entire roof and get someone to check the ceilings in the rooms just below. If there is a leak in the ceiling, then the roof is damaged and may need to be replaced.
- Look for discoloured areas in the roof
Discoloured areas on your roof indicate blisters or shrinkage that might eventually lead to water leakage. Circle these areas with chalk so that when a contractor inspects your roof, they can fix these spaces without wasting any time. Schedule inspections when it is not raining, so that the marks are not washed away.
Important Ways to Maximize the Lifespan of a Flat Roof
An average flat roof can last for decades if maintained properly. Here are a few handy tips:
- Get a professional to inspect it twice a year. This way you can keep track of and fix damages before they escalate into something bigger and costlier.
- Get rid of gutter debris regularly to prevent drain blockage and allow water to flow freely after heavy downpours.
- Trim the branches and twigs of trees surrounding your house or building to prevent them from clogging your roof drains.
- Check the ceilings of rooms located immediately below your roof. If you notice dampness, call a professional immediately.
That’s everything you should know about flat roof maintenance. Though it requires relatively little maintenance, that does not mean you can skimp on inspections. Either check your roof yourself or hire a professional roofer. Then choose the option that suits your building best and do what is necessary. If your roof is damaged, it makes sense to fix it as soon as possible to prevent spending more money in the future.