Roof Repair for Flat Roofs: When and How

Flat roofPhoto:

Flat roof repair skills are crucial for anyone who owns a building with a flat roof. It’s even more important to know how to maintain a roof and perform minor roofing repairs before any small cracks or dips become serious problems.

Heat and water cause most problems that require roof repair. Flat roofs should be inspected at least twice a year for heat and water damage. Check the roof more often if you live in an area with heavy storms or if trees drop a lot of drain-clogging leaves onto your roof. Look for trouble spots and perform a roof repair. Flat roofs with serious leaks will likely need to be replaced. In such cases, a flat roof repair will only cover up the problem. Still, you can delay a costly replacement with preventive flat roof repairs.

Water Woes

The first spot to keep an eye on is the edge of the roof, and any other drain channel. Water pools at the edges of the roof before flowing down the drains, and even a tiny gap in the flashing can allow leaks. Seal the flashing tightly all the way around the roof where it meets exterior walls, and around any vents or chimneys. Remember that rain doesn’t always fall vertically. Flat roof repair may also involve flashing repair on the walls.

Look for standing water at low points on the roof. If you see blisters in the roof, water has probably already leaked into those spots. Sooner or later, the water will seep through and require roof leak repairs. It’s easier to perform roofing repairs when the roof is dry and before the water causes serious damage inside the building.

You might be able to cut out and replace small sections of the roof with new rubber sheeting or asphalt felt, depending on the existing material. Sagging areas also can be built up and leveled off with sheets of rigid insulation under the roof.

However, in cases of widespread, severe damage, call in the professionals for expert flat roof repair.  

Re-Tar, Not Re-Roof

If you find cracks and bumps all over the roof, you can extend its life with a two-step DIY roof repair. Flat roofs often just need a new layer of roofing tar rather than a whole new surface. You might also add reflective aluminum paint, which helps the roof absorb less summer heat. The building will be more comfortable and the roof less likely to crack because will be under less stress.

The best defense against leaks is a good, early offense with preventive roof repairs. Flat roofs are very susceptible to water and heat damage, but thorough, regular inspections and maintenance can prevent many problems.

Steve Graham writes for

Updated June 11, 2018.

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