Got a flat roof?
For many property owners, a flat roof can encounter several problems, but they really don’t have to be such a worry! Maintain your healthy roof by performing regular roof maintenance and giving it the attention it deserves and it will last and serve you well for many years.
The roof on your house is probably one of the most important components aside from its foundation. One of the first things you should learn as a property owner/manager is the most common causes of roof failure and how to identify common roof problems. Roof damage exposes the structure of a home to serious issues including water damage/rot, wildlife infestations, mold, and more. There are a number of elements that can weaken a flat roof. When you know what these are, you can help to preserve the roof longer and therefore protect the life and value of your home.
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Are Regular Roof Inspections Even Required?
One of the best ways to determine if your roof is failing is by scheduling a regular roof inspection from a reputable local roofing contractors. They will inspect all parts of the roof to determine if there is any damage. They will also inspect if roof components are old and/or if poor construction is a factor. They can also provide you with a report regarding what needs to be done to restore the health of a roof. When you have your roof inspected annually and implement the recommended repairs, you can extend the life of your entire roofing system. It is also a good idea to document any roof maintenance and repairs that are done so that you have a written history. If you actively maintain your roof, it will help to extend its overall efficiency, as well as its long-term life expectancy. Defective roofs can generate significant and often unforeseen expenses to building owners, along with plenty of other problems if left unchecked. There are a few major roof repair projects that will cost a fraction of the amount if you treat the problem as soon as it is found. By staying up to date on what is going on with your roof, you can reduce and even eliminate the potential of serious issues.
Developing A Roof Maintenance Plan
If you make an executive decision to do your own maintenance, it's imperative to compose a checklist of your findings during your inspections. A flat roof maintenance checklist will help to ensure that nothing of importance is missed and that you cover all elements that require your inspection. You may also use the checklist to provide as proof of proper maintenance in the event you must submit a warranty or insurance claim.
Should you feel uncomfortable with tackling this job alone, please contact your local roofing contractor to assist you with setting up a Service Agreement (or “Maintenance Plan”). The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) recommends maintenance and repair inspections be conducted at least twice a year. These inspections are done to remove any debris such as metal from HVAC units to ensure that there is no damage to the roofing system, copings, flashing and other units.
A good service agreement will go a step further; it covers the cleaning of your gutters, repair of your flashings and the performance of minor repairs all for the cost of the roofing service program. Having a professional roofer visit your roof regularly not only gives you peace of mind, but it extends your roof’s lifespan and keeps you within your warranty guidelines.
There are three main types of maintenance plans available:
- A contract that has the contractors visit the home regularly for gutter and drain cleaning along with a visual inspection and report.
- A contract that includes drains and gutter cleaning, along with a visual inspection, small general repairs, debris removal, and a report.
- A contract that includes drains and gutter cleaning, along with a full inspection, debris removal, medium general repairs, a roof survey and a report.
Do I need a plan if I already have a warranty?
A roof warranty requires at least one commercial roof inspection to be conducted a year by an experienced commercial roofing contractor. During the roof inspection, the inspector will check for current problems and areas that could potentially turn into problems in the future. All repairs should be made before they worsen and become far more costly.
Locating the source of a leak
Before going up on the roof, first examine the interior of the building interior for any signs of water damage such as mildew, mold, leaks, peeling paint and water stains. If any is found do not hesitate to contact a local commercial roofing contractor. Please note, water always finds a way, so the cause of the damage may not be located directly above the issue.
Despite the title of “flat roof” giving the impression of a completely flat, level surface, flat roofs should always have a slight incline. In the event it is not included in the construction, or the slope isn't steep enough, rainwater can begin to pool in several places. When your flat roof is installed, you want to make sure that there is proper sloping and that drain spouts are in the right location. Poor drainage can result in ponding water, which can damage roofing materials and results in leaks or sagging in certain areas. This is why it is so important to have your roof installed by an experienced commercial roofing contractor. When performing roof inspections and maintenance, you will want to check for ponding water and clear drain spouts of any debris.
Wrong Roof Coating:
Depending on the climate, you will need to apply various types of roof coating in order to protect the integrity of the flat roof. Many people may forget to apply coating, or apply one that is not suited for humidity, rainfall, or snow. If you are unsure about which coating is right for your roof, contact a reputable local commercial roofing contractor for advice.
Another mistake that people commonly make when it comes to their flat roofs is failing to make adequate repairs. Some may make the mistake of only addressing visible issues, rather than fixing the root of the problem. It is always a good idea to consult with the experts at a local, commercial roofing company before making any repairs.
Poor Roof Installation:
Some roofing problems begin with poor installation. These include improper installation of flashing, use of weak membranes, and inadequate caulking. If you believe your commercial flat roof has installation mistakes, it is a good idea to have it inspected by a professional commercial roofing contractor to diagnose and repair any issues before they become larger problems.
Not all commercial roofing contractors use EPDM as the outer coating for the roof, but more often than not it is used as the protective membrane coating. In spite of the many advantages to using this material it can undergo shrinkage which usually occurs around the roof’s edges. When this happens, moisture can begin to affect the layer beneath and the seams start to loosen. If there is minimal shrinkage, repairs are relatively simple. Otherwise, it can become a costly job.
If moisture becomes trapped between the roof and membrane, this can lead to blistering. This is likely to occur in hotter environments as the moisture has more opportunities to expand. Repairing blisters is a relatively straightforward task for contractors. While unopened blisters aren’t of concern in the short term, those that have cracked leave your roof exposed to the elements and the further issues this can create.
Failure to Remove Snow and Ice:
During the winter months, snow and ice accumulation can seriously damage flat roofs. Many people may neglect to remove snow and ice accumulation which can result in ponding, freeze-thaw, and leaks. Ice and snow can also add significant weight to your roof. An older or poorly maintained roof may not be able to cope with this additional load. Remember, getting up on your roof can be very risky at the best of times. When you factor in slippery ice and snow, it can be even more dangerous. If you do not have the capabilities to remove the snow/ice accumulation on your own, it is best to call in an experienced commercial roofing contractor. They will be properly trained in dealing with these extreme conditions and fully insured, freeing you from any liability if anything were to happen on your property.
Lack of Ventilation:
A common concern with flat roofs is ventilation. When your flat roof is installed, you need to make sure that ventilation is accounted for, to prevent excess moisture from building up. Too much moisture can result in the growth of mold, mildew, and decay. To prevent this problem, have a pop-up vent and ventilator on opposite ends of the roof. Remember to check the ventilator often to make sure it is functioning properly, and that you do not have a build-up of moisture.
These common maintenance mistakes can lead to one or more of the following problems, including:
- Structural damage
- Decay of roofing materials
- Severe leaks
- The growth of mold and mildew
- Safety issues for your employees and customers
- Damage to contents of business (including furniture, products, and employee belongings)
- Poor and unhealthy working environment
- Insurance ramifications (for damage or loss)
- Sullied image of your business
- Loss of profit (from closures due to roofing repairs)
- Costly emergency repairs
- Collapse of roof
In order to avoid these costly damages, it is crucial to routinely inspect your commercial flat roof for ponding water and drainage issues. You should seriously consider having a professional inspection and maintenance performed by a professional local roofing contractor at least once a year, in order to diagnose and repair any issues before they result in more serious damage.
Meat and Potatoes
You may not be an expert in roofing, but ensuring your commercial roofing system is in good, protected condition is a very shrewd decision. If you feel you require any assistance or advice, then this would be a great time to contact certified commercial roofing experts like us here at Infinite Roofing. We are here to help complete all of your flat roof maintenance and repair needs and to ensure that your roofing system stays strong and sturdy for many years to come!