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Common Issues With Flat Roofs

Experienced Commercial Roof Repair

Flat roofs have installation factors and built-in design that can frequently result in performance issues and a shorter life span than is necessary. The following are the top three factors:

1. Leaking

Leaking is the problems that occur the most frequently on any type of residential flat roof. Usually, that occurs due to ponding water standing for longer than 48 hours, following a rainstorm. Normally, moisture will get through at the flashings or seams. It also can come from parapets, skylights, chimneys, clogged drains, and other forms of penetrations that are on the roof. Having a leak from some form of puncture is less common. If moisture gets underneath the membrane and in the sheathing, rot and mold may start forming. That is especially likely to occur in areas that have frequent storms and rain.

2. Deteriorating and Shrinking Materials

For EPDM membranes, one of the more common problems is shrinkage. Whenever rubber shrinks, it may pull parapet walls down, drip edges or a chimney. On a bigger building that is more likely, and on a property where a membrane was not installed or attached properly.

3. Damage That Foot Traffic Causes

Another problem, especially for commercial buildings and flat roof decking is heavy foot traffic. HVAC contractors and other maintenance personnel as well as other visitors randomly going on the roof, walking over fasteners, dropping tools, and puncturing the membrane which can cause other forms of damage that will have to be repaired.

When Should Your Commercial Flat Roof Be Replaced?

It can be an expensive and time-consuming project to replace a flat roof. In most cases, it should be the final resort. Just because there are a few spots on your roof that are leaking doesn’t always mean it will need to be replaced.

There are just two major scenarios that warrant having a new roof installed:

1. Age of Your Roof

Whenever the original materials have reached the end of their life, the best option is to replace it. Depending on the kind of material that your roof is made out of, the weather in your local area, and how well you keep up with your regular maintenance, the life-cycle might vary. Since EPDM have seams that are prone to letting moisture through, they can have many issues in locations with frequent and heavy rainstorms. TPO might not live up to its maximum lifespan in a geographic area with drastic temperature fluctuations and high heat.

2. Faulty and Poor Installation

Unfortunately, installation problems occur way too often. That is the largest source of problems, including leaks. If you are having to constantly fix a roof that is fairly new, it is probably an indication that the roof was not properly installed. Some of those can be solved Commercial Flat Roof Repair Contractorsby a professional roofing contractor, but some cannot be. That is why having a professional and thorough inspection done by an experienced roof is so critical. If there are installation problems that cannot be fixed, then the best option is to replace the faulty roof. If you do not do this, you will continue to spend more and more money into your roof that won’t ever perform the way it is supposed to. If you have wet insulation, it will not be able to dry out by itself and may cause structural damage and mold issues that will be a lot more expensive to repair than putting a new roof on or replacing a major part of your original roof.

If you are able to afford it, select a premium material such as PVC. Although it cost more than other single ply options, after you install it, you will not need to worry about leaks or other problems again for a very long time. There are air-welded seams on PVC that do not come apart. They will stay resistant to water. It is cool, Energy Star rated material as well that reflects the heat of the sun that can save you lots of money on your energy costs.

The Most Important First Step Is To Have Your Roof Inspected

To determine whether you need to have a roof leak repaired or get a new membrane, locate an experienced and professional roofing contractor to conduct a thorough inspection. Make sure you hire an experienced professional since a general contractor or asphalt shingle specialist will not be aware of all of the complexities and details of flat roofing materials. They may give poor recommendations to you that can end up costing you more time and money to repair in the future.

The roofing contractor should check all of the following during the inspection:

  • Assess any damage: ponding water, leaks, aging, punctures, deterioration
  • Check for cracks at the corners and joints, and around ventilation slits and chimneys
  • Attachment points
  • Flashings
  • Seams

Also, it is very important for the roofing contractor to perform a test-cut (through the material to see what is underneath the top layer). Quite often, rotted sheathing and mold under the top layer will not be visible on the surface.

Armadillo Roofing & Exteriors, (512) 333-7663, provides commercial flat roof repair, commercial flat roof installation and commercial flat roof replacement services to Austin, Texas and the surrounding area cities. When you need a commercial roofing contractor you can depend on to give you solid advice about your commercial flat roofing system, give us a call.


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