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 top 6 most common problems that occur in flat roofs, and how best to deal with these issues depending on their severity:
Alligatoring – 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. Just like any roof, a flat roof will develop leaks, but since it’s flat, the water doesn’t have anywhere to go but straight down. 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 maintenanced 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.
Pooling water – 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 make sure 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. In the event that 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.
Flashing – Just 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.
If you have questions about the condition of your flat roof, or if you think it’s time to get your flat roof inspected, call the experts at Werner & Sons Roofing. With more than 20 years experience in West Michigan roofing, we’ll be able to tell you exactly what’s going on and fix it in a timely fashion. If you’re not sure what condition your flat roof is in, or what you might need repaired, you can put in a request for a free quote online, or you can call us at (616) 844-5382 today!