Dear Frustrated Flat Roof Owner
It’s a sad fact that most of the damage we see on a day to day basis could so simply be avoided by following these common sense steps, of course I appreciate some roofs may have gone well past their sell by date and need to be replaced.
However in these challenging economic times there are ways to extend the life of your roof until you can afford something better.
Tip 1: Have an Annual Inspection
Inspections should take place at least twice a year, preferably in the spring and autumn, recording and reporting all changes in the condition of the roof.
Look for the following conditions: roof surface problems such as blisters or bubbles, worn surfaces, open seams, visible cracks, ruptures or other holes and loose surfaces or fasteners.
Drainage problems such as standing water, clogged drains and gutters, and bent or missing drain covers; flashing problems including cracks, holes, rust, missing flashing and failed caulking at joints between flashing and parapet walls; masonry problems on parapet walls.
Such as deteriorated mortar joints, brick, coping stones and accumulation of debris.
Such as old roofing materials and household rubbish.
Below you can see some classic Flat Roofing repair issues
Tip 2: Check Roof After Storms, Snow or Heavy Rain
It is also important to check the roof during and after a heavy rain to see how any water is being drained away from the building and if gutters and outlets are clogged. In addition, check the underside of the roof, especially the edges, from the attic for detection of leaks.
Standing water (also called ponding) is a sign of drainage problems. Leaks will occur if there are any defects in the roof membrane or flashing.
Tip 3: Avoid Surface Damage
Flat roofs are frequently used as platforms for mechanical equipment, signs and braces, where improper mounting and flashing causes leaks.
Avoid using the roof as a staging area for parapet, steeple or mechanical repairs, where outside contractors can be careless about protecting the surface.
If you’re having any work carried out that requires access from your flat roof make sure you insist that any contractor protects the flat roofing surface with 18 mm timber boards, which should not be placed on top of any existing reflective chippings as these can puncture the waterproofing membrane.
Tip 4: Repair Quickly
Once a roof leaks, damage to the building becomes costly to repair. For example, wet insulation boards and rotting decking require roof replacement.
Should a problem be discovered during inspection, the correct diagnosis and its prompt repair will save money by prolonging the life of a roofing system.
Repair punctures, worn bituminous coatings, open seams, failed flashings and other problems before serious leaks develop. Remember, once a flatroof leaks, damage to the building becomes costly to repair.
For example, wet insulation boards and rotting decking require roof replacement. Any temporary repairs or professional roofing work should be completed before winter.
A good alternative to the normal flat roofing repair materials commonly purchased at most DIY stores is manufactured by a UK based company and called Acrypol. This is classed as a liquid membrane which is easy to use and can purchased from any Jewson’s or Asphaltic outlet.
Tip 5: Know When to Repair or Replace
Many home owners try to extend the life of a flat roof by continually repairing the surface. This decision may ultimately cost them more in the long run due to increased attention and damage caused to interiors and structural systems by the constant ingress of water.
According to the NRCA/ARMA Manual, roof replacement is recommended when the roof has exceeded its expected service life and it shows evidence of advanced deterioration: insulation is wet, deteriorated or poorly attached or numerous leaks of a serious nature have developed in the roof membrane.
For most felt roofs the average life expectancy can be around 10 to 12 years. This is very dependant upon how exposed the roof is to the elements as it is the extremes of temperature and UV damage that can cause the most damage.
Replacement, rather than re-covering the old roof with a new membrane, is also necessary when the existing roof membrane is not a suitable substrate for a new roof covering, or two or more roof coverings already exist