Flat roofs are frequently hailed for their durability and long life. If your home or commercial building has a flat roof or even a flat portion of a roof it may seem as though leaking will never be a problem. Unfortunately, there are times when even the best flat roof develops a leak. Here are some of the reasons for a flat roof to fail and ways you can minimize that possibility.
If the roof leaks almost immediately after its installation, it is likely that a mistake was made as it was placed and secured. Although flat roofs are relatively straightforward to install, problems can arise if the membrane is not thick enough for the load expected. Also, if the screw down fasteners are not appropriately sealed after placement, each screw can be a weak area where water can leach through. Insist that the installer returns to correct the problems if there is a problem immediately after your flat roof is finished. Materials and labor should be under warranty.
Why Is My Flat Roof Leaking?
Sealants on any seams or around vents, chimneys, pipes, or other protuberances must be appropriately applied and in large enough quantities to keep the water on the outside. If even a tiny slit remains unsealed, water eventually makes its way through, leaking and causing water damage to your building. Flat roofers use an accessory called a boot to surrounding structures and pipes or vents that come through the roof from the inside. This boot seals the extruding item to the membrane, and should also be caulked with a rubber-based glue-like substance intended to stop any opportunistic leaks.
After a flat roof is installed, the finishing touch is often a level layer of gravel or smooth river rock. This coating is protective and helps the membrane maintain its integrity over the months and years. Wind, rain, and other elements on the roof can shift this layer. At least yearly the gravel or rocks should be respread into an even coating across the rubber roof. If some of this protective coating washes down the drains, additional gravel or rocks must be applied and evenly spread. When these steps are not routinely taken, the roof may leak.
Physical Damage On The Roof
Storm or other physical damage can occur, causing rips or tears in the rubber membrane. Since the roofing is open to the elements, a broad range of issues can affect its ability to keep water away from the interior of the building. Typical scenarios include winds causing trees or branches to drop on the flat roof, scraping the roofing material so that it can no longer protect. Machinery or other structures on the roof can tip and fall, punching holes into the membrane, pulling up edges or the boots that seal chimneys, pipes, or other fixtures that extend from the decking. When the membrane is damaged, leaking will occur.
If damage and then leaking occurs due to a storm or an accident, insurance can cover the loss. Make sure that your flat roof repairs are managed by a professional roofing company to support the claim. The documentation that experts provide goes a long way toward convincing an insurance carrier to pay for the labor and materials needed to fix a damaged and leaky flat roof.