How do you repair a flat roof?

flat roofing system with ponding

Maintaining a flat roof

You come to work one day and surprise, there is a leak in the warehouse. The last thing a business owner needs, but you wonder, “Can you patch a flat roof?”

 Yes, flat roof repair for commercial and industrial buildings has become more common over the past few years for several reasons  One reason is the expense of new flat roofing installation. Another reason that many building owners are going with flat roofing repair is for environmental reasons. 

However, repairing flat roofing isn’t always a viable option. Depending on the current roof condition, when it comes to flat roof repair or replace with new flat roofing, replacement is the better choice. 

How do you know if your flat roof needs replacing?

Flat roofing has advantages over sloped roofing, but they do have some issues that need to be considered when deciding on a building with flat roofing. There are three key areas of weaknesses with flat roofing and if your flat roofing is exhibiting any of these, it is time to get a replacement: 

  • WATER EXESIVELY POOLING:  Excessive pooling is the biggest and most common issue with flat roofing. If your flat roofing is developing pooling regularly, it is time to consider new flat roofing replacement. There are products available that will give your flat roof a slight pitch that can help minimize or eliminate ponding.  Depending on the damage to your roof, this is an affordable, but temporary, option. 
  • LARGE RIPS AND TEARS: Flat roofing will develop holes and tears overtime, commonly long the seams.  Slight damage is repairable, but extensive holes and tears are indication that you need new flat roofing installation. When there are extensive holes and tear, there are more to follow. 
  • DAMAGED ROOFING MATERIAL HIDING: Tears are easy to spot on flat roofing, but some roofing materials it is easy to find holes.  Some flat roofing materials though, like tar and gravel, it can be challenging though. A flat roofing that is composed of a material like that may be one you want to consider a new flat roofing installation. 

How often should a flat roof be replaced?

Every flat roofing type has a different lifespan and to determine if your structure needs new flat roofing, you need to know the type of material is existing. The lifespan of flat roofing is greatly affected by the type of material, the climate and environment, the installation, and the care and maintenance. The life expectancies of common flat roofing materials are: 

  • PVC Flat Roofing Materials: 20 to 30 years
  • TPO Flat Roofing Materials: 20 to 25 years
  • Asphalt Built-Up Flat Roofing: 20 to 30 years 
  • Flat Roof Coating: 15 to 20 years

How long does it take to replace a flat roof?

A new flat roofing installations can take up to five days. Things that can make this shorter or longer, is the size of the structure and any complexity of the roof. Other factors that can affect the time for new flat roofing install are: 

  • Weather: Any weather that can create a dangerous setting for the crew like rain or high winds. If a foam adhesive is needed for new flat roofing install, the temperature must be 70°F or higher.
  • Inspections: A third-party inspection is an important step of the new flat roofing process and cannot be controlled by the roofing contractor. 
  • Permit: Many times, there are changes made during a flat roofing installation method changes, requiring changes to the permit. This process is in the hands of the local municipality.  
upkept flat roof

How do you stop a flat roof from leaking?

Flat roofing is popular with commercial and industrial structures, but when they begin to leak, it’s an issue. An inspection should be the first thing to have done once a leak is discovered. Choose a roofing contractor that will have the flat roof repair materials need to do a temporary flat roof repair in rain. Then schedule an appointment for the contractor to provide an inspection and estimation of flat roofing repair or replacement. There are two long-term methods that can prevent flat roofing from future leaking:

  • Flashing – Flat roofing should have flashing installed around chimneys, vents, and bent over the edge. 
  • Membrane – Have a rubber membrane  installed with gravel on top of the membrane. 
  • Inspection – Monthly inspection to check for holes and tears, loose flashing, or debris that should be cleaned off. 

Flat roofing is common but can be problematic. With care, maintenance, and regular inspections followed up by needed repairs, flat roofing can last for years. A company’s maintenance crew should do monthly inspections and have a professional roofing contractor perform an inspection once a year. After a significant weather event, an inspection should be done by either the maintenance crew or a professional roofing contractor. Call (260) 248-7020 today for your flat roofing needs.