Flat roofs have long been a stalwart fixture of commercial and residential property. They have a clean, modern look and are often more practical than some pitched roofs. What they lack in additional storage space (as within a pitched roof) they make up for in access and usability. They aren’t without issues, and there comes a point where a flat roof repair is in order.

Flat roofs require a fair amount of maintenance and left unchecked they can get damaged. What might start as a small, containable issue can rapidly escalate into something much more. The best way to avoid that happening is two-fold. First, carry out regular roof inspections. Second, complete any flat roof repairs as soon as they are identified.

In this article, we’ll share some of the most common flat roof issues and how you might be able to remedy them. You’ll also learn some handy preventative maintenance tips to keep your flat roof in good order.

Common Flat Roof Issues

Flat roofs can face several problems, these are the most common:

Leaks: Seeing as the roof is, by design, flat they can suffer from standing water if drainage isn’t installed correctly. This pooled water slowly erodes the roofing material as time passes. Eventually, the water will work its way through the material, and a leak springs in a weak spot.

Membrane Damage: Many flat roofs will have some form of flexible membrane layer that protects the underlying materials. This membrane layer can deteriorate over time. It can also get punctured, blister, or crack. The latter tends to happen during extreme weather events, footfall, or if heavy items fall onto it. Once the membrane is damaged, water can seep in.

Flashing Issues: Left naturally the roofing materials would meet at right angles which is difficult to create a good seal. Flashing is typically used to combat this, but that creates seams and joints. That’s especially the case around vents, chimneys, and other rooftop apparatus. If this isn’t installed properly or it deteriorates over time, water can enter the roof.

Insulation and Ventilation: If either insulation or ventilation is poorly installed, moisture can rapidly build up under the outer layers of the roof. This can cause dampness. That can lead to structural decay and mold growth.

The easiest way to spot these issues is through regular inspections. That means gaining access to the roof and having a close look. It also means carrying out internal inspections. Look for signs of water damage on walls and ceilings, and any peeling paint or mold.

The sooner any signs are recognized, the better.

Flat Roof Repair: A Step-by-Step Guide

If you’re a DIY enthusiast, flat roof repair can be tackled with the right tools and a diligent approach.

1. Identify the Problem

The first step is to spot what’s causing the issue. If you’ve noticed any of the signs above internally, try to trace them back to an external source. With careful inspection, there should be an obvious sign of damage. If there isn’t, consider bringing in a professional that can find the source.

2. Clean the Area

Chances are you’ll be faced with a dirty area, covered in standing water and possibly some debris. This all needs to be removed before any repairs can be started. Don’t be tempted to move it to another area of the roof, this can cause another issue in a different place.

3. Patch Small Leaks

If you notice a small leak, it can be repaired with relatively few materials and tools.

  • Take your patching material and cut it to a size that generously covers the affected area and the border around it.
  • Liberally apply roofing cement around the area then place the patch onto it and press firmly.
  • Take a roller and smooth the patch until it is flush with the roof and completely adhered.
  • Use more roofing cement to seal the patch edges.

4. Deal with Larger Areas

For larger repairs, you might need a more extensive list of materials and some specialist tools.

  • Cut around the damaged part of the membrane and then remove it.
  • Completely clean anything that is underneath and then allow it to completely dry.
  • Cut a portion of the membrane that can fit with some overlap.
  • Apply adhesive and then firmly stick it over the area.
  • Roll to remove any bubbles and air pockets.
  • Seal the edges.

5. Apply Sealant

No matter the size of the repair, you then need to apply sealant. Anywhere there are seams and joins, apply a high-quality roof sealant. Allow it to dry for as long as the instructions suggest.

6. Inspect Your Work

This is your opportunity to proudly inspect your work. Yes, give yourself a firm pat on the back but do take a critically evaluating eye to your craftsmanship. Ensure that the leak cannot return despite your efforts.

Preventative Tips to Protect Your Flat Roof

Prevention is the best course of action if you want to keep your flat roof maintained. Follow these tips and you’ll keep your repairs to a minimum.

  • Make sure that you carry out regular inspections, especially during spring and fall.
  • Regularly clean the roof surface and guttering.
  • Deal with any pooling water immediately, this can be a sign that drainage is failing.
  • Maintain surrounding trees to minimize falling debris.
  • Schedule regular professional inspections to protect yourself the best.

Final Thoughts

Avoiding flat roof repairs comes down to proactiveness and prevention. Now that you understand what some of the common issues are, and even have some preventative tips, you can protect your flat roof.

  • If you want to save yourself money on repairs, try to detect issues as early as possible.
  • Always maintain your flat roof for the smallest repair bills.
  • If in doubt, call in the professionals.

Need a second opinion on a flat roof repair or want your problem dealt with immediately by a professional? Contact Trenton Roofing, and we’ll be happy to help you with any issues you might be dealing with.

Alex Valentino

Alex Valentino – Vice President

Leading the way for the company’s second generation of family and employee ownership, Alex’s mission is to create lasting relationships built on trust and respect by providing uncompromising workmanship and unparalleled customer service. With a focus on safety and consumer education, Trenton Roofing strives to set the bar for the advancement of the roofing industry and the betterment of our local communities. When he is not working, Alex can be found traveling with his fiancée, watching football or playing a relaxing round of golf with his friends.