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How do you stop a flat roof from leaking?

Common Issues with Flat Roofing

It is common for commercial structures to have a flat roof, and the reasons are many. The first reason being they are less expensive to install. They are easy to maintain, and flat roof repair and replacement are relatively easier and quick. 

A flat roof also provides a structure more useable square footage, and the HVAC system can be installed on a flat roof, which minimizes vandalism when installed on the ground level. Then there is the concern about the fact that a flat roof leak is highly likely. 

Yes, like anything else, there are downsides to a flat roof, leaks are probably the most significant concern and downside. It seems that flat roofs and leaks go hand-in-hand, but once you have determined what flat roof leaking causes are, you can remedy the situation. 

Do flat roofs always leak?

The first thing you should know is that a flat roof is not genuinely flat. Every roof has to have some slope to it so that it can shed water. On a pitched roof, like on your home, the rain runs off it as it comes dow. It then goes through the gutter system and on to the ground.  A flat roof will have drains installed, and the rain runs from the slight slope to the drain and then on to the ground. 

A flat roof will develop a leak when the drains are clogged because it has nowhere to go. It will pond on the roof, and if it isn’t dried up promptly, it sits and soaks through the membrane.  This is a situation where workmanship can be blamed for a flat roof leak. 

Poor construction and workmanship are too often the culprits for a flat roof leak. During the construction phase and reroof phase, money is typically on a tight budget, understandable. The contractor, during the construction phase, is concerned with being under budget and under time.  Once the building is occupied, it becomes the responsibility of the owner to have regular maintenance to check for a possible flat roof leak and other issues. 

Because ownership of a commercial structure has a budget, he may instruct the maintenance team to do the minimal work necessary to patch the roof. If they deem a seam coming loose or an area with ponding water isn’t a concern, that can allow water to get under the membrane, and the flat roof leak will happen. 

How do you find a leak in a flat roof?

If your flat roof is leaking, to fix it or see what is needed, you first need to find where the leak is, and like on a pitched roof. It isn’t always as simple as the flat roof leak being where the wet spot is on the ceiling.  The following steps will help you isolate where the flat roof leak is located: 

  • Clear all debris, like tree branches or anything that the wind could have blown onto the roof. Look for any gouges or tears. 
  • Check the metal flashing at membrane seams, around pipes and vents, around the HVAC system, along the edges, and in the corners. Note if you see any bent, loose, or missing.
  • Check the collars and flanges around the vents. Look for any cracks or decay. 
  • Look for previous patches with caulk or tar and note if they have cracked or came loose. 
  • Check all the seams, even if there isn’t flashing over them, to see if they have come apart.
  • Look for any low spots on the flat roof for leaks. These can cause water ponding there.

If you notice any problematic areas, these could be potential spots. Using a water hose, run water over those areas for a few minutes and see if the flat roof leak starts. 

How do I stop my roof leaking in heavy rain?

Several factors can cause a commercial flat roof leak. First, you have to understand that every roof has its uniqueness when it comes to strengths and weaknesses. The following are common problems associated with a flat roof leak, and by knowing these are why your roof could be leaking when it is raining, you can take care of the matter and stop it.

Puddles Saturating

Because most commercial rooftops have a flat roof, leaks will happen when the drainage system isn’t working. It is natural to have puddling after heavy rain, but when they last for several days, that usually indicative of a problem. When water is allowed to collect, sit, and saturate a spot, it softens the membrane, the materials under the membrane, and before you know it, you have a flat roof leak. You can stop that flat roof leak by keeping the drains and downspouts clear. 

Flashing Damaged

A common cause of a flat roof leak on a commercial structure is damaged flashing. The purpose of flashing is to seal the roof’s perimeter and seams. It is a protective layer against debris and water, getting past the membrane and roof covering. Heavy, high winds can rip flashing off if it catches a loose spot, and with contracting and expanding with the weather, it will naturally weaken. Monthly inspections and making repairs to flashing when noticed will minimize, if not stop, a flat roof leak in heavy rains.

Membrane Damage

A protective barrier is applied to flat commercial roofs to keep debris, rain, snow, and harsh winds off of the raw roofing material. That outer membrane slides water off toward the drainage system so that it can’t saturate the roof surface. With UV rays and other climate issues, that membrane ages and is weathered, making it susceptible to blistering and cracking. Once that blister pops or a crack is opened, the membrane is no longer doing its job to protect that raw roofing material. The monthly inspection should include looking for these blisters and cracks and either patch them or have the roof recoated to stop any heavy rain flat roof leak.

Pipes and Openings Poorly Sealed

Just like a house, there are pipes on flat commercial roofs, and they usually have the HVAC units and other equipment extending through the surface. There should be adequate seals installed around these roof openings, but once they become damaged or weakened by the climate, heavy rain can get through them and saturate the roofing, damaging the roof and the structure. Again, a monthly inspection should look for these issues and repairs made immediately so that heavy rain doesn’t cause a flat roof leak. 

What can I use to seal a leaking roof?

You’ll need to clean the roof of any debris and dry up any ponding water.  Assuming you have located the flat roof leak, you can use a patching material, like silicone, and apply with a dense brush over the leak.  If the leak is at the flashing, replace the flashing or cover with silicone material.  If the leak is around a vent or the HVAC system, replacing the boot around it is recommended.  

Another option, and probably the best, is to call a professional commercial roofing contractor.  They will have the equipment and experience, and they will know the best patching material for your roof’s membrane. 

In Closing 

We could answer the common question,” Why is my flat roof leaking?” with a harsh reality answer of “Because you haven’t done your monthly flat roof inspections as recommended so that you could catch any of the issues we just mentioned.” We also provide you a simple answer that the three main reasons a flat roof leak happens are:

  • Ponding Water
  • Damaged Membrane
  • Roof Penetration Flashing Loose or Missing

To own a commercial building comes with responsibility, and the flat roof is a big part of your commercial building’s stability. The monthly inspection is recommended, and if not by your maintenance team, then by a professional roofing contractor. 

Can Spray Foam Stop Leaks?

A Roofer Applying Foam Roofing.

Can spray foam stop leaks?

Roof leaks are a nightmare for any building owner. Foam roofing is often offered up as a solution to stop leaks. But is this true? SPF spray foam has multiple applications. It’s used as insulation and some use it to seal cracks in basements to stop leaks. When sprayed over a roof, foam expands to form a seamless barrier over the roof. This barrier can, indeed, stop leaks from happening in the future. It can also be used to seal up spaces on your roof that are vulnerable to leaks. Of course, if the leaks are serious and have affected areas other than the main roofing material, and there is other damage present, it may be better and cheaper to replace the roof, and then add spray foam to the new roof for added protection. If you are interested in getting the added leak protection of commercial foam roofing in Fort Wayne, IN, the professionals at Tri-County Commercial Roofing LLC can help. We provide a full range of commercial roofing services. Find out more or schedule a foam roof coating today by calling (260) 248-7020.

What is foam roof?

You might wonder what foam roofs are and are foam roofs any good? Foam roofing can prove a lifesaver, in some instances, when it comes to your roof. This material starts out as a liquid that’s sprayed over the rooftop and hardens into a type of polyurethane foam. It can be used on almost any type of roof, but is most commonly used on commercial buildings with flat roofs or metal roofs. Commercial building managers usually ask for spray foam as a way to preserve their current roof for several years, which it does very well. It’s often applied along with silicone, acrylic, or similar roof coatings to bolster up the roof, better protecting it from leaks and other damage. It’s also ideal when it comes to improving energy efficiency and saving you on cooling costs. Moreover, a fresh coating of foam can be reapplied every 10 years or so for further effectiveness.  

How long does a foam roof last?

Under ideal conditions foam roofing can last as long as 20-35 years, but in most cases, its longevity will be affected by maintenance, weather, and exposure to foot traffic. It’s recommended that after about 10-20 years a new coating should be applied, which will extend your roof’s life even longer. Before the new coating is applied, repairs will need to be made and the roof will need to be cleaned.

Can you walk on a foam roof?

Many people think you can’t walk on foam roofing, but this is a myth. Foam roofs can actually take a lot of weight and can handle up to 50 pounds per square inch. As with any other roofing material, you still have to be careful when walking on foam. If you are carrying heavy or sharp objects with you, and those objects are dropped on the roof, a puncture can occur.

Foam roofing for commercial building

Foam roofing is typically applied to commercial buildings, especially those with flat or metal roofs. It’s especially beneficial for those with flat roofs, because these types of roofs tend to have problems with drainage and leaks. The spray foam hardens and forms a seamless barrier over the roof and around vents that will prevent future problems with leaks.

Foam roofing repair

Foam roofing, of course, is not invulnerable. While you might not damage it while walking on it, it’s still susceptible to damage from severe weather like hail or extreme heat and longtime sun exposure. Some common problems include seperation from the original roofing material and blistering. When foam is applied, an acrylic or silicone coating is normally also applied over it. These coatings can wear out as well, and repairs will need to be made.

Foam roofing vs. TPO

For flat roofs, one of the most popular materials to use is TPO, a single-ply membrane that offers similar UV and leak protection as foam roofing. Tri-County Commercial Roofing LLC works with both kinds of roofing, and each has its advantages. Both, for instance, cost about the same to install. 

Foam roofing, though, does have a few distinct advantages over TPO, as outlined here:

  • You don’t have to tear off your old roof to apply foam. It goes directly over your old roof.
  • Foam has a higher R-value (the ability to transfer heat) than TPO, so it’s better at insulating your roof.
  • Foam takes less than a week to lay down on a large building, whereas TPO takes about 2 weeks, depending on weather. 
  • Foam can be sprayed directly on roof decking without any penetrations. Most TPO installations will require penetrations in the roof decking.

Our contractors can help you decide on what’s best for your roof, whether you want foam, TPO, or any other commercial roofing system. 

A Recently Sprayed Foam Roof

Foam roofing near me

When it comes to protecting your roof from leaks and the weathering the sun can cause, a foam roof can be a great investment for your building and business. For the best in foam roofing in Fort Wayne, IN, turn to the commercial roofing experts at Tri-County Commercial Roofing LLC. We offer an extensive range of commercial services to suit any need. Find out more or schedule a service call by phoning (260) 248-7020.

What is Single Ply Roofing?

Single Ply Roofing on a Building

Get Single Ply Roofing for Your Business

Single ply roofing is a type of roofing that is laid on top of a roof in sheets, instead of using hot tar or asphalt. It is a good option for roofs that do not have much of a slope, which often refers to businesses or warehouses. They can be installed quickly, where it often does not interfere with the running of your business.  There are a few different types, each of which has its advantages and drawbacks. Here is a look at what those are and which ones are best suited for different circumstances. If you are interested in single ply roofing in Fort Wayne, IN, give the experts at Tri-County Commercial Roofing LLC a call at (260) 248-7020.

Pros and Cons of Single Ply Roofing

Check out this list of single ply roofing pros and cons, based on the most popular types available.

  • TPO Pros: This type of roofing is considered highly durable and is good when it comes to saving energy. It is also a cheaper solution to install than other types.
  • TPO Cons: There is evidence that this roofing is not perfect when it comes to high heat. If you live in a hot climate, it will not last as long as it will in milder climates.
  • EPDM Pros: You can count on this type of roofing to be fire-resistant and not harmful to the environment. It is also able to block UV rays and is not easily damaged when it comes to wind and hail. 
  • EPDM Cons: This roofing consists of black rubber, so some do not like to look at it or think it is an eyesore. It is also more expensive than other options out there.
  • PVC Pros: This product is able to hold up well, since slight movements of the building or the ground will not damage it. Chemicals will not damage it either. 
  • PVC Cons: It can be hard to repair PVC once it starts to break down or become damaged. Installation also means you have to remove whatever roof you already have completely.

How long does single ply roofing last?

Depending on what type of single ply roofing you choose, and whether or not it is installed properly, in many cases, the warranty can last for up to 40 years. Each type of roofing will have its own warranty period, where the time is generally at least 20 years. This means there should be very few problems for at least 2 decades, although you should have your roof monitored to make sure no issues arise during that time.

What is single ply TPO roofing?

TPO is a specific type of single ply for roofing, which is also known as Thermoplastic Polyolefin. It is a type that is easy to install, lasts a long time, and is resistant to grease.

What is the best material for a flat roof?

There are a handful of great materials to use when it comes to single ply roofing for a flat roof but some people feel that PVC is the best choice. This is because it does not take a lot of upkeep and it is unlikely to crack or become damaged. It also is good for lowering energy bills, since it is white.

How do you waterproof a flat roof?

The best way to waterproof a flat roof is by using elastomeric coating on top of it. This keeps water from being able to penetrate it and lessens leaks and things like that. You can do this by yourself if you are experienced, but it is a better idea to call a commercial roofer like Tri-County Commercial Roofing LLC to complete the job.

What colors does this roofing come in?

There are not too many colors to choose from when it comes to different types of single ply roofing. Often they are white or black, but some products may have a handful of other roofing colors to choose from, such as gray or brown. 

What is the best covering for a flat roof?

Although there are a few good options when it comes to covering a flat roof, a top choice is EPDM or Ethylene Polypropylene Diene Monomer, which is a rubber type of roofing. It resists fire and the sun’s rays.

A Single Ply Roofing Membrane

Overview

Now you likely know more single ply roofing details, so you can make a better decision about if it is something that will work well for your business or commercial building. If you are in need of single ply roofing in Fort Wayne, IN, look no further than Tri-County Commercial Roofing LLC. We work with all the single ply roofing products that were mentioned previously, and we also offer commercial coatings as well. These can increase the life of your roof even further. We would love to talk to you today about your roof and your business. Call us today at (260) 248-7020 to learn more about any of these things or to see how we can solve your problems.