Flat Roof Repair 101
Updated: Nov 9
Flat roofs on commercial buildings have some advantages over sloped roofs, but they are also susceptible to a few issues. A few of these problems can lead to a shortened lifespan for your flat roof if left unchecked.
Due to the design of the flat roof, they typically require more maintenance than sloped roofs.
Regular inspections by a reputable roofing company specializing in commercial flat roofs are crucial to ensuring that your roof’s structural integrity is maintained.
Knowing what signs to watch out for with your flat roof can help you determine a problem that requires repair. Read on to see some of the issues that you may encounter on your flat roof that will require repair (or even replacement).
4 Common Signs that Your Roof Requires Repair
Minor repairs are common on flat roofs because they aren’t designed for water runoff. Therefore, roof repair or maintenance can be a regular thing.
Unfortunately, this means that you can get stuck in an endless cycle of repair and damage, which costs you considerable time, energy, and money.
If you catch the problems early, then you can get ahead of your roof deteriorating. There are common signs that your roof has an issue, and experiencing more of these more often may mean that your roof needs to be replaced.
1. Water Pooling
One of the most common issues in flat roofs is pooled water. Pooling water stresses your sealant and can cause cracks and leaks in your roof.
Your roof moves slightly over time, which causes dips where water can pool. Your roof has been designed to keep your building safe from weather-related issues, but water pools should be drained or cleared away as soon as possible.
Doing so will ensure that the water does not enter the layers of the roof to form deeper cracks and shorten your roof's lifespan.
If your flat roof is getting older, you can consider adding a slope to even out the flatness and cause water to drain more readily. Depending upon the condition of your roof, this may be a good option.
A professional roofing company should assess your roof and determine its worthiness before you make any decisions.
2. Adhesion Malfunction: Blisters or Bubbles
Suppose you notice bubbling and blistering on your flat roof. In that case, it is a sure signal that the adhesive that holds down your watertight roofing materials is failing.
The bubbles that you see on the surface of the roof are filled with water or air. This can be caused by inadequate insulation, poor ventilation, or improper installation.
If you can catch the problem early, the bubbles can be repaired. However, they can pop over time, and the resulting blisters can be too large to fill with additional sealant.
When this happens, you may even get holes that are deep enough to compromise the inside of your facility.
3. Moisture and Leakage
Excessive moisture is also a major problem for flat roofs. If moisture is not taken care of quickly, it can seep into the membranes of the roof, causing mold and fungus.
Hire a professional roofing company to perform regular inspections and required repairs. This will help catch moisture leaks before they become major repairs.
4. Cracks or Tears
Finding cracks or tears in your roof is a visible sign that your flat roof needs repairs.
If you discover a crack or tear, the more quickly it is managed, the less your chance of having the under layer of plyboard or chipboard absorbing water.
Once this happens, the roof can become unstable and unsafe to walk on. If the problem has been caught early, you may not need a complete replacement.
However, if the entire flat roof surface is covered in cracks and tears, you probably need a new roof.
If you notice cracks or tears in the seams, where two pieces of material were joined, you can be almost sure that the area under the roof is much from moisture retention.
An expert roofer will determine the depth of the damage and let you know the best course of action.
What a Roofing Professional Will Check
The issues we list here are the most commonly reported and repaired issues for flat roofs, but there are other problems your roof may have. Your roof should be checked regularly by a roofing contractor to check for damage or wear and tear on your roof.
There are visible indicators of roof damage. These are some of the things an experienced roofing company will inspect first:
Top Coat of the Flat Roof
One of the signs that you are experiencing issues with the topcoat is the sound of fluttering from the roof, especially during windy weather. The fluttering is a sign that panels are lifting, which has exposed the under materials to weather conditions.
If this happens, it means that the topcoat has become vulnerable. The topcoat should be addressed immediately to help stem further damage and lead to your roof failing prematurely; you will most likely need a replacement.
Flat, asphalt roofs shift with temperature changes. This expansion and contraction force the flashing to pull away from the roof's edges. Once it lifts up, moisture can gather, causing leaks into your building.
Once your roof's flashing deteriorates, it will need to be replaced. Check to see that the flashing is still intact, and if you are unsure, call a roofing professional to check.
A common roof issue for sloped or flat roofs is organic growth. Moss, algae, and lichen can develop on your roof, and though they appear harmless, it is a sign that you have too much water and moisture on your roof.
Leaving the organic matter to grow can wreak havoc on your roof. When your roofing professional performs an inspection on the flat roof, be sure to alert the roofer to any growth you have noticed.
Repair vs. Replacement
A damaged flat roof can compromise your building and your livelihood. That is why the decision to have your roof repaired or replaced is important.
For minor repair concerns, generally, a roof repair is all that is warranted. If your roof has significant structural or water damage, a repair will only be a temporary fix.
You will end up paying more for continued repairs as a result and could even compromise your inventory and premises.
Keep in mind that the roofing material used on your building has an expiration date, and if you are beyond that or close to it, it is a good idea to replace the roof.
Roofing material technology has advanced, and you may find that there are products that are better suited to your building purpose or climate.
There is another guideline for the repair versus replacement dilemma. If a repair will cost more than 20% of the price of a new roof, and your roof is more than halfway to its expected service life end, replacing it is the most cost-effective plan.
Future repair and maintenance costs will likely exceed the price of a new roof. Eventually, you are going to need more repairs.
Call Roofing Experts
The decision to replace or repair your roof is ultimately yours. However, a good roofing company will be upfront and honest about your repair choices.
Call an expert like MM Dynamic to inspect your roof and determine the best course of action. With their recommendation, you will have a better idea of the state of your flat roof.
If your roof is relatively new, you want to ensure that you get the most life out of it. With regular maintenance checks by a roofing professional, you can keep it functioning at its best for as long as possible.
Interested in learning more about your flat roof options? Contact us.